NEW YORK –
No one’s trip to the Super Bowl is getting more attention than Taylor Swift’s. Her plan to get from a Saturday night concert in Tokyo to Las Vegas for Sunday’s big game depends on a private jet. But she is not the only one who does not travel on commercial flights.
Clark County expects more than 1,000 private planes to fly into one of four airports in or around Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, likely setting a record for that form of transportation for the wealthy.
The Super Bowl typically attracts the most private jet flights in the United States of any event over the course of a year, according to WingX, which tracks private jet traffic. Those with the means to spend thousands of dollars on tickets and hotel rooms to attend the game are more likely than the average Sunday afternoon fan to afford a private jet flight.
And Las Vegas, with its flow of high rollers, is a major destination for private jets year-round. So it’s no surprise that the city’s first Super Bowl could break a record for private jet traffic.
Last year’s big game attracted 920 planes flying to and from the game in suburban Phoenix, according to WingX. The record was 984 planes that took fans to Miami in 2020, just before the pandemic broke out.
The airplanes will use Harry Reid International Airport, the city’s airport for commercial flights, which is just across the Las Vegas Strip and Interstate 15 from Allegiant Stadium, where the game is played.. They will also use three airports for private jets: North Las Vegas and Henderson Executive Airport, each about 11 miles apart in opposite directions, and Boulder City, about 25 miles to the east, near the Hoover Dam.
But even those four airports combined only have room to park 500 planes between the arrival time of most, Thursday through Saturday, and Monday, when there will be a rush of departing planes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We are facing a good number of delivery and departure operations. That’s common for these types of events,” said Joe Rajchel, spokesman for the Clark County Aviation Department. Private planes will fly somewhere else and wait for word that their passengers are ready to leave.
WingX said the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November attracted 927 private jet flights, most from California. Rajchel said even more are expected this week.
“We’re seeing 1,000 or more coming in and out,” he said.
The rush of flights began Thursday, with 263 private planes arriving at the four airports, according to FlightAware. This represents almost 30 percent of all flights arriving at the four airports on Thursday, including commercial flights.
It’s not just about expensive parking spaces. The landing spots are also full and have been for months, both at the airports and at the fixed operators that serve private jets at the airports. But it’s hard to imagine that Taylor Swift’s private jet will have trouble getting a landing spot when it’s expected to arrive Saturday. Oversight of the process has been a joint effort of the FAA and the National Football League.
“The FAA is working with law enforcement, the aviation community and the National Football League to ensure safe and efficient air operations for Super Bowl LVIII,” the FAA said in a statement emailed to CNN.
The impact on the climate
The attention paid to Taylor Swift’s private jet travel plans has drawn some attention to the implications of climate change of those flights.
Air travel, whether on a large commercial jet or a small private jet, is a major source of carbon emissions, responsible for around 800 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the International Energy Agencyor more than two percent of total global energy-related emissions.
While private jets consume a fraction of the fuel consumption of a commercial airliner, they are estimated to consume about 10 times more per passenger mile traveled given their limited capacity, according to one study. report by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank based in Washington.
Domestic private jet travel last year was below the record set in 2022, according to WingX, but still above pre-pandemic levels.
“Without a doubt, the pandemic triggered much higher demand for business aircraft travel, primarily for health reasons (travel bubble), as well as the convenience of moving away from closed areas,” said Richard Koe, managing director of WingX, in an email to CNN. “Demand cooled in 2023, and some first-time users returned to airlines. But many new users have continued to fly privately.”