Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Private jets crowd Vegas

Private airport traffic for today’s megafight is reaching record volume, officials for companies and staff at McCarran International Airport said — so much that incoming passengers were being directed to Henderson and North Las Vegas to land their planes. Airport staff is increasing at the two less-familiar airports in response to record incoming private traffic for tonight’s Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, Mc­Carran spokeswoman Christine Crews said. McCarran staff has used social media to encourage private planes to choose a destination other than McCarran to land their planes

For commercial flights, nearly 443,000 seats heading into Mc­Carran were available from Thursday to today — the airport’s largest seat capacity for the three-day time period in “at least five or six years,” Crews said. Commercial flights en route to McCarran, on average, fill 87 percent of their available seats to capacity, Crews said. But through today, scheduled flights from both U.S. and international cities were overbooked, leading some airlines to use bigger planes to meet demand. “Airlines at really high load factors are using higher capacity aircrafts than usual,” Crews said. “We do expect this to be a very busy weekend.” Crews said McCarran was co­ordinating traffic with companies that receive private planes at Mc­Carran to prevent major logjams. Though the airport at one point mulled a charter flight to Mc­Carran from Manila, Philippines, no additional flights were ever added, Crews said.

On Friday, private planes from the Philippines, Canada, Mexico and the Cayman Islands were among the hundreds of jets spotted touching down on McCarran runways. And, Crews said, most of the Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match’s effects were seen Friday in private airport traffic. At Signature Flight Support, one of two companies receiving private planes at McCarran International Airport, flight volume was expected to exceed the company’s previous record set for the Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya fight during the weekend of May 4-6, 2007, manager Rita Carrillo said. “After (noon) Friday, it’ll be raining planes here,” she said.

Though Carrillo didn’t provide numbers, she said this weekend’s estimated volume is the largest she can remember in 30 years working at the airport. Exact numbers are difficult to predict, Carrillo said, because clients can carry as few as two or three passengers on private planes as large as the 400- to 600-seat Boeing 747. “People do that,” she said. From noon Friday until about 4 p.m. today, Carrillo expects nonstop incoming traffic. Signature clients were encouraged to make reservations, but many were expected to land at their own convenience, Carrillo said. “I don’t think people realize the magnitude of this event and the type of clientele that is coming in to see us,” she said.

A representative from Atlantic Aviation, McCarran’s other company receiving private planes, was unavailable for comment. Landing space at Henderson Executive and North Las Vegas airports, both county-owned, is available through tonight’s fight on a first-come, first-served basis, Crews said.

Flying out of Las Vegas after the fight is expected to be equally hectic, if not more so, Crews said. With both airport staff and Transportation Security Administration staff working overtime at McCarran, Crews said passengers who don’t arrive to their flights on time may have to wait at least one or two days to find an available seat on a later flight. “This isn’t the time to make any last-second flight changes,” Crews said. “Sunday and Monday will definitely not be the days to miss your plane.”

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