LAS VEGAS — With the United States now open to vaccinated international visitors, Las Vegas has ushered in the return of intercontinental air travel following a 20-month pause due to the global pandemic.
Virgin Atlantic Airways returned to the city on Nov. 8, the same day the U.S. opened its borders, with a Boeing 787-9 that was greeted in true Vegas fashion – with showgirls on the ramp waving in the plane.
“Today is a watershed moment for Las Vegas as international borders open and we welcome overseas visitors back to the destination,” said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “In addition to being a world-class leisure destination, our major tradeshows and conventions draw large international delegations and we are very optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Las Vegas welcomed 5.7 million international visitors in 2019, and the change to U.S. policies related to international air travel is key to destination recovery efforts. Prior to the pandemic, the city welcomed nonstop flights from 31 cities in 12 countries.
In addition to Virgin Atlantic Airways’ nonstop from London Heathrow, British Airways also resumed nonstop service from Lon Heathrow on Nov. 15. Next up are KLM’s nonstop from Amsterdam beginning Dec. 7 and Copa Airlines’ nonstop from Panama City starting Dec. 7.
Regular nonstop service from Canada resumed earlier this year. Current routes include: Air Canada from Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary; Flair Airlines from Toronto; Swoop from Edmonton; and WestJet from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver.
Regular nonstop service also resumed from Mexico this past July, with routes that include: AeroMexico from Mexico City; JetBlue from Cancun; Viva Aerobus from Monterrey and Mexico City; and Volaris from Guadalajara and Mexico City.