An airport wish list: Which airlines could bring Las Vegas the most new tourists?

Kids play at Sunset Park in Las Vegas as an airplane lands at McCarran International Airport on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013.

Three thousand people are expected to arrive in Las Vegas this weekend to attend the four-day World Routes convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Representatives from 1,000 airports, 300 airlines, and more than 70 convention and visitors bureaus will discuss transporting people from city to city.

For McCarran International Airport, it’s a golden opportunity to entice airlines to develop routes that will bring more tourists to Las Vegas.

Which airlines should Las Vegas woo? City representatives won’t say what companies they plan to talk to, but these are several of the airlines that make sense:

    • An Air China's Boeing 777 jet, center, taxi to a gate after landing at Beijing International Airport in Beijing, China, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. Boeing Co. says it expects Chinas airlines to triple the size of their fleets over the next two decades, driven by strong economic growth and rising tourism spending.

      Air China

      Where it flies in the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York

      Available fleet: Air China flies Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s capable of reaching Las Vegas from China nonstop.

      Las Vegas has always looked longingly at attracting a major Chinese airline to provide a nonstop route from Beijing since the market of middle-class Chinese travelers is expanding.

      Air China has a major operation at its Beijing headquarters that is well connected with domestic Chinese flights.

      The lengthy visa application process in China continues to be a problem, but tourism leaders say the process is improving.

    • Boeing handout of China Southern's first Boeing 777 on a recent trip to the paint hanger in Everett, Washington. President of Boeing China Michael Zimmerman said a strike by machinists at Boeing in the United States will delay delivery of the first 777 series jets to the crucial Chinese customer China Southern. China Southern will be the first Chinese airline to operate the 777.

      China Southern

      Where it flies in the United States: Los Angeles, Chicago

      Available fleet: China Southern flies Boeing 777s, Airbus A330s and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that it received in June. Aviation leaders consider the 787 (along with the Airbus A350) to be the perfect plane to serve Las Vegas because it's made of composite materials, which makes it light and less expensive to fly. The airline also flies massive Airbus A380s, but those could create logistical problems at McCarran because of their broad wingspan.

      China’s largest airline is headquartered in Guangzhou, off China’s southeastern coast, and is a quick train ride away from Macau. That area is one of the fastest growing Chinese markets for business and gaming.

    • A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 at the Vancouver International Airport, B. C. Canada.

      Cathay Pacific

      Where it flies in the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York

      Available fleet: Cathay Pacific flies Boeing 747 and 777 jets, as well as Airbus A330s and A340s, with next-generation A350s on order.

      Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, has one of Southeast Asia’s best reputations for service. Hong Kong is a major population center and a one-hour boat ride from Macau.

      Singapore Airlines once flew a Hong Kong-Las Vegas route, but it was discontinued in 2003 after the United States invaded Iraq.

    • A Qantas A-380 takes off  in Sydney, Australia,  Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. Qantas Airways Ltd. announced that it has signed a 10-year partnership deal with rival Emirates in a bid to boost the Australian airline's struggling international business. Under the alliance, Qantas will move its hub for European flights from Singapore to Dubai, coordinate with Emirates on ticket pricing and scheduling and apply a benefit-sharing model starting in April 2013. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.


      Where it flies in the United States: Los Angeles, New York and Dallas-Fort Worth

      Available fleet: Qantas flies Boeing 747s capable of the 17-hour flight to Las Vegas.

      Las Vegas has never had a nonstop flight from the Southern Hemisphere, so direct flights from Melbourne or Sydney would be an experiment. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has a marketing office in Australia that could boost the destination.

      Although Australia is not a primary tourism market for Las Vegas now, it has potential for weekly or twice-weekly flights during peak season.

    • Two Pratt & Whitney PW6000 engines powered the inaugural flight of the first production A318 aircraft for LAN Airlines of Chile.


      Where it flies in the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Miami

      Available fleet: LAN flies Airbus A340s, Boeing 777s and the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

      The LVCVA has explored Brazil as a new primary market and has begun advertising and marketing there.

      Brazil's much-maligned visa application process has improved dramatically, according to tourism leaders, and the popularity of Las Vegas has played out well for Copa Airlines, which flies from McCarran to Panama City with connecting service into South and Central America.

      Prospective direct-flight cities include Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Lima, Peru.

    • A Japan Airlines jet taxis to a gate at McCarran International Airport on Friday, July 7, 2000.

      Japan Airlines

      Where it flies in the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston and San Diego

      Available fleet: Japan Airlines flies Boeing 767s and 777s. It was among the first airlines to adopt the Boeing 787 Dreamliner but also was one of the first to ground the jet when it experienced battery and electrical problems.

      The LVCVA would love to get Japan Airlines back with nonstop flights to and from Tokyo. The airline discontinued service to McCarran in 2006 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and SARS concerns frightened Japanese tourists.

      When Japan Airlines began Las Vegas service in 1998, it challenged Northwest Airlines, which had begun flying the route six months earlier with what was Las Vegas’ first nonstop overseas flights.

      Before 9/11, the Japanese route was the best performing overseas route to and from Las Vegas.

    • A Lufthansa 747 airplane.


      Where it flies in the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Atlanta, Seattle, Newark, N.J., Philadelphia, Detroit, Orlando, Fla.

      Available fleet: Airbus A330s and A340s and Boeing 747s. It has Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s on order.

      Germany's Lufthansa already has pushed open the door to Las Vegas. It plans to offer nonstop flights from Zurich, Switzerland, to Las Vegas next year on its Edelweiss Airlines subsidiary.

      The LVCVA wants to bolster its presence in Europe with Lufthansa, a carrier that could deliver connectivity to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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