LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Clark County Department of Aviation today celebrated the opening of McCarran International Airport’s new Terminal 3, a technologically advanced, 1.9 million-square-foot expansion that will significantly improve the travel experience for the more than 40 million passengers who annually fly through the nation’s seventh-busiest airport.
“T3” is the first unit terminal to be constructed in the United States in the post-9/11 era. It includes 14 gates, seven of which can be used for international arrivals; an expansive ticketing lobby; space for two Transportation Security Administration checkpoints with up to 31 lanes; an eight-story garage with room for nearly 6,000 vehicles; more than a dozen stores and restaurants; and an automated tram system that enables Terminal 3 to handle the check-in, security and baggage claim needs of up to 26 gates at McCarran’s nearby D Concourse. Coupled with the airport’s existing infrastructure, Terminal 3 increases McCarran’s annual capacity to approximately 53 million passengers; its historic peak was nearly 48 million passengers in 2007.
“After years of planning and construction, it was amazing to see the first passengers and aircraft arrive here on Terminal 3’s first day of operations,” said Clark County Director of Aviation Randall H. Walker. “It took a great deal of time and dedication to achieve this goal, and I would like to thank the members of the Clark County Board of Commissioners for their commitment to seeing this project to fruition. McCarran provides the first and last impressions of Las Vegas to tens of millions of travelers each year, and with T3 we’re now well poised to serve those passengers’ needs for years to come.”
McCarran has long been recognized as a global leader in aviation technology, and Terminal 3 will further that reputation thanks in part to several new amenities it offers. Each check-in area is equipped with kiosks that allow passengers on participating air carriers to tag their own checked baggage, a time-saving initiative that has proven popular with travelers in recent U.S. trials and at airports outside the United States. In addition, each of T3’s 14 E gates has self-check-in equipment to ease the boarding process. Nearby, 14 video pylons support multiple monitors that display imagery and weather conditions for the destination cities of aircraft the E gates serve. McCarran’s long-standing practice of providing free public wireless Internet access has also been extended to allow the Wi-Fi signal to be used by passengers on aircraft that are parked at any of T3’s gates.
“Las Vegas expects to welcome a record 40 million visitors in 2012, and the new terminal will help us achieve that goal,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, President/Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “The visitor experience in Terminal 3 is unlike any other in the country and delivers on our brand promise. Visitors will immediately have a unique sense of place and receive the type of welcome we want to provide.”
Terminal 3’s initial flights were symbolic of McCarran’s past and future. A Virgin Atlantic Airways flight from London’s Gatwick Airport arrived first, slightly more than 12 years after the United Kingdom-based carrier implemented then twice-weekly service to McCarran on June 8, 2000. Today Virgin Atlantic operates nine weekly flights to Las Vegas, from London as well as Manchester. Its long-term success demonstrated to the industry that direct international air service to Las Vegas could thrive.
McCarran’s newest international air carrier, Copa Airlines, came next with its first-ever arrival in Las Vegas. Copa will initially operate five weekly flights from its hub at Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport. Its network stretches across Central and South America and the Caribbean, providing single-connection access to Las Vegas for travelers in more than 30 Latin American cities. Copa became the 10th foreign flag airline to implement Las Vegas service since work on T3 began.
McCarran and the LVCVA jointly market Las Vegas air service around the globe to attract more international visitors to support the local economy. Upon arrival at T3, travelers will encounter an expanded U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry that utilizes multiple Global Entry kiosks to expedite entry into the United States. In addition, McCarran and the LVCVA worked to obtain CBP’s permission to create a unique “Welcome to Las Vegas” video message for foreign travelers. McCarran is the first U.S. airport to showcase its own welcome video. T3’s customs area is also adorned with vintage photos of historic Las Vegas, and a colorful mural that depicts current Strip landmarks. Overall, Terminal 3 houses an expansive public art program that includes works by several well-known artists, as well as Clark County schoolchildren.
Terminal 3 allows McCarran to move some air carriers to relieve peak period congestion at Terminal 1. T3 will initially serve 16 international carriers, with Alaska, Frontier, JetBlue, Sun Country and Virgin America scheduled to move in on July 31. Hawaiian and United will relocate their ticketing and baggage claim to T3 on August 22, though those airlines’ flights will remain at the nearby D gates.
The Clark County Department of Aviation is an enterprise fund with a budget supported from airport revenue, not local tax dollars. Terminal 3 was financed primarily through airport bonds that will be repaid over time using money generated through McCarran’s users including landing fees, rental charges, concessions, parking, advertising and gaming revenue, among other sources. At the height of its construction, Terminal 3 employed approximately 1,800 workers. Over the course of its nearly 6-year build out, more than 9.5 million labor hours were devoted to T3-related projects.
More information on Terminal 3 is available in a digital media guide that can be accessed at McCarran’s newly designed website, www.mccarran.com.
Editor’s Note: Interested media can obtain high-resolution photos and high-definition video clips of Wednesday’s Terminal 3 opening events, courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau, by visiting the LVCVA’s media center at: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/LVCVA.