Reno-Tahoe International Airport welcomes first international service in 15 years; seasonal London service set to start in December

International services were welcomed back in style to Reno-Tahoe International Airport when Volaris introduced twice-weekly flights from Guadalajara in mid-December. A cake and a water arch salute were part of the celebrations. Even more exciting for the airport will be the launch in December 2015 of the airport’s first European service, when Thomas Cook Airlines introduces twice-weekly flights from London Gatwick.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada celebrated a major milestone just before Christmas with the arrival of a flight from Guadalajara Airport in Mexico. The service, operated twice-weekly by Volaris, was the airport’s first scheduled international service for 15 years. Reno is the second largest city in the state of Nevada with a population of around a quarter million and is famous for its casinos. It promotes itself as “The Biggest Little City In The World”. Lake Tahoe, which straddles the Nevada/California border and lies around 40 kilometres south-west of Reno, is the largest alpine lake in North America and is a major tourist attraction, being home to several ski resorts. The 1960 winter Olympics, the first to be televised live, were held nearby at Squaw Valley.

Chart - Reno-Tahoe International Airport 2006-2014 Annual passengers (millions) and year-on-year growth

Source: Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

In recent years passenger numbers at Reno-Tahoe International Airport have been in decline. In 2007, over five million passengers passed through the airport, but since then demand has fallen by around one-third. Comparing schedule data for January 2015 and January 2007 shows that the airport has lost non-stop services to Atlanta, Boise, Oakland and Santa Ana, while capacity has been reigned in considerably on several other routes.

Year-round tourism reduces seasonality

Thanks to the region’s year-round tourism Reno’s seasonality profile is relatively flat and scores a “Good” 2.59 on anna.aero’s SVID calculation based on 2013 data. However, Las Vegas scores an even better 0.57 (“Excellent”) while nearby Sacramento in California also rates as “Excellent” with a score of 0.77.

Chart - Reno-Tahoe International Airport  Monthly passengers 2011-2014

Source: Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Las Vegas is #1 destination

Passenger traffic figures from US authorities reveal that Las Vegas is the most popular destinations from Reno with over 360,000 enplaned passengers in the last 12 months (so over 700,000 annual passengers in total). Las Vegas is currently served by both Southwest Airlines (with 65 weekly departures) and Allegiant Air (with just two). Competition is greater on the Phoenix route where Southwest (12 weekly flights) competes with US Airways (24 weekly flights). The most competitive market is Los Angeles, where American Airlines (28 weekly flights) faces competition from Southwest (14 weekly flights) and United Airlines (seven weekly flights). Apart from these top 10 destinations only one other city, San Jose in California, is served non-stop with at least daily flights.

Chart - Reno-Tahoe International Airport Top 10 routes - enplaned pax Oct 13 to Sep 14 (000s)

Source: RITA BTS.

Southwest #1 with almost 50% of seat capacity

Volaris’ arrival means that there are now eight carriers offering scheduled services at the airport. Southwest leads the way with almost half of all weekly seats spread across a network that includes Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Diego. American Airlines serves Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles, while Alaska Airlines, in partnership with Horizon Air, offers multiple daily flights to Portland, San Jose and Seattle-Tacoma. United Airlines offers daily flights to Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Delta Air Lines has multiple daily flights to Salt Lake City, and US Airways serves Phoenix. Finally, Allegiant Air serves Las Vegas and used to operate to Bellingham until terminating that service in January 2014.

Transatlantic service from London set to start in December

In early November it was announced that Thomas Cook Airlines, in conjunction with Ski Lake Tahoe, would introduce a twice-weekly A330 service from London Gatwick to Reno-Tahoe from 19 December 2015 until 9 April 2016. This is the first ever non-stop scheduled service between Reno-Tahoe and Europe. “This is amazing news for our ski community, gaming community and overall economic impact for the region,” said Airport President and CEO Marily Mora. “It also highlights that Reno-Tahoe International Airport is truly the Gateway to Lake Tahoe. Non-stop service to London, England represents an important partnership between the skiing and gaming community in Reno-Tahoe. Our ski resorts and hotel casinos have partnered to support this flight and bring our new European customers a one-of-a-kind skiing and nightlife experience in one of the most beautiful and entertaining places on earth.”

Reno-Tahoe International Airport will get its first European service starting December 2015 when Thomas Cook Airlines will start twice-weekly flights. Announcing the new route at the airport on 4 November was airport CEO Marily Mora. Tea and crumpets were served to celebrate the news.


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