Las Vegas may soon secure better access to visitors from mainland China after Hainan Airlines applied to run up to three direct flights a week between the city’s McCarran International Airport and Beijing.
According to a report on Asia Gaming Brief, Union Gaming analysts are noting that at least 300,000 Chinese nationals already visit Las Vegas each year but they must first arrive at other cities. Cutting out this current transfer requirement could see the city increase the numbers of visitors from Asia while additionally extending the length of their stays.
Hainan Airlines has already received approvals for its plan from China’s Civil Aviation Administration and it is now waiting on a similar endorsement from the US Department Of Transportation, according to the report.
“The approval is a major first step in potentially bringing even more Chinese carriers to Las Vegas,” read a statement from Union Gaming. “The fact that Beijing would approve direct flights to a city known, perhaps erroneously, for gambling can only be interpreted positively.”
If its plan is approved, Hainan Airlines is expected to use the 213-seat and long-haul Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger jet to transport passengers between Beijing and Las Vegas. At full capacity, this could mean around 33,000 additional inbound visitors a year.
“First, direct flights would allow Chinese travellers to spend more time in Las Vegas and ultimately spend more money,” read the statement from Union Gaming. “Second, incremental flights and carriers would likely follow suit after the first three flights begin. We believe the first direct flights into Las Vegas could just be the tip of the iceberg as it relates to direct service between Las Vegas and China.”
This article has been updated to reflect the source of the UG analyst’s note.