Grading my Las Vegas business predictions for this year
Nailing down the biggest stories of 2012 wasn’t so easy last December
In baseball, you have to be successful only one at-bat out of three to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
If I were a professional baseball player, I would have had a pretty good year when predicting the top stories of 2012.
Here’s my scorecard on predictions for the year, made last December.
Airline shuffles. I accurately predicted that Southwest Airlines’ integration of AirTran would help Las Vegas and that adding Atlanta to its route map would produce dividends.
Southwest averages about a dozen round trips to and from Atlanta a day, including two nonstops, adding important competition for legacy carrier Delta Air Lines.
But my crystal ball didn’t show how successful Allegiant Air’s new service to Hawaii would be. Frankly, Allegiant didn’t predict it, either.
And the Las Vegas-based airline continued to be predictably unpredictable with its plans for a new type of airplane, the Airbus A319, to replace its aging MD-80 fleet, as well as its plan to feed visitors to Las Vegas from small cities in Mexico.
I also struck out projecting gradual domestic capacity growth. I figured the airlines wouldn’t be able to help themselves from using their resources, even in low-yield markets such as Las Vegas. But the airlines continued to show remarkable restraint, the result being fewer flights, fuller airplanes and a more profitable industry.
Terminal 3. I told you it was going to be a home run. What I didn’t know was that it would be a grand slam.
It houses four new international carriers to Las Vegas — airBerlin, Arkefly, Copa and Interjet — although another, Philippine Airlines, dropped out. A double-digit percentage increase in overseas visitors has offset soft domestic capacity.
DesertXpress. I struck out here. I figured the high-speed train linking Las Vegas with Victorville, Calif., would have its Federal Railway Administration loan approved and ground would be broken in 2012.
Instead, the train system was rebranded to XpressWest, a name meant to reflect the fact that developers hope it will become part of an eventual high-speed rail network across the West. The company also signed agreements with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority to develop a high-speed line from Las Vegas to Los Angeles via Palmdale, Calif. But no construction has started.
What do they say in baseball? “Wait until next year”?
Tourism economy. I got a few hits and a few misses here. I was right about Las Vegas closing in on its tourism record of 39.2 million visitors, set in 2007.
We won’t know exactly how many people came here until the December numbers are tabulated next month, but at the end of October, visitation was at 33.6 million. That’s close but probably not record-breaking. The last two months would have to average 2.8 million to hit the mark.
I also was right about occupancy rates and average daily room rates inching up, but I was wrong in predicting that something would happen with the Echelon and Fontainebleau projects on the Strip.
Online gaming. Another whiff. I took the safe route by saying federal lawmakers either would legalize online gaming or strengthen efforts to ban it. They did neither.
Good thing for second chances. In two weeks, I’ll dust off the crystal ball for 2013.