McCarran welcomes Las Vegas' latest international arrival

McCarran International Airport welcomed Eurowings as its latest arrival on Friday, expanding a roster of international carriers that now call McCarran home. 6/2/17 (Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

Just after 3 p.m. Friday, Eurowings flight 174 touched down from Cologne, Germany, joining an expanding roster of international carriers now calling the nation's eighth busiest airport home.

Eurowing's maiden arrival was greeted under the traditional water cannon arch provided by the Clark County Fire Department. Outside U.S. Customs in Terminal 3, the approximately 300 passengers were greeted with showgirls, cake, and champagne.

"Direct flight from Germany. Very comfortable, 11 hours," said passenger Sven Muehling, from Cologne.

At McCarran, 18 of the airport's 29 carriers now call from foreign countries.

"If you go back to 2009, we were seeing about two million passengers that arrived on foreign flag carriers," says the airport's Chris Jones. "Last year, we were over three and a half million, and this year we should be in the same range."

To accommodate the increase in international flights, McCarran is doubling the number of international gates, from seven to 14, by expanding into the D-gate satellite concourse.

Airlines from Mexico and Canada were McCarran's international mainstays.

"Now you see China, now you see Germany, now you see the U.K. with several flights a day, so the breadth of Las Vegas has expanded. People know the market and they want to come here," says Jones.

The international rush was on full display Friday. Reporters standing on the tarmac not only saw Eurowings arrive, but shortly afterward, a British Airways flight from London, and another German carrier, Condor, landing from Frankfurt.

Friday's landing inaugurates twice-weekly Eurowings non-stops between Las Vegas and Cologne that will run from today, June 2, to October 27. With Condor, Eurowings becomes the second German carrier landing at McCarran. 218,000 visitors landed from Germany in 2015, making the country the largest source of passengers from Europe.

Last year, of the 43 million visitors who visited Las Vegas, 19-percent came from overseas, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. They are a prized demographic.

"They come here, they stay longer, they spend more money. In turn, that means more money that goes to our roads and our parking and our schools. That's all tourist dollars that we can benefit from," says the LVCVA's Heidi Hayes.

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