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Las Vegas airport might get a new name in honor of Harry Reid

It’s a good bet that folks who fly to Las Vegas regularly are probably used to the name McCarran International Airport — even if they’re not sure where the name comes from. But they might soon be getting used to a new name when they travel there.

The Clark County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted in favor of renaming McCarran International Airport after Harry Reid, the powerful Democrat who served Nevada in the US Senate for decades, including a stint as majority leader from 2007 to 2015.

In an announcement on Twitter, the commissioners said they “have unanimously approved a resolution requesting the name of @LASairport be changed to Harry Reid Int’l Airport. The request will go to the” Federal Aviation Administration.

The tweet said private contributions would cover costs associated with the name change should the FAA approve it.

“It is with humility that I express my appreciation for the recognition today,” Reid said in a statement published by CNN affiliate KVSN.

“I would like to express my deep gratitude to Commissioner [Tick] Segerblom, the entire Clark County Commission, and the many others who have played a part in this renaming.”

According to US Senate history records, Reid was the sixth-longest-serving leader in the Senate of either party, with a total of 12 years.

The airport is currently named for a different US senator. The late Pat McCarran served in Congress from 1933 to 1954.

KVSN reported that “historians have called McCarran a noted proponent of aviation but also an advocate of xenophobic and anti-Semitic policies during his career, leading several of Nevada’s political leaders to call for changing the name of the airport.”

The news comes as Las Vegas continues to deal the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The job market there has been the hardest-hit among large US metro areas. Vegas is very dependent upon leisure travel, business conferences and large gatherings, but it has seen those revenue streams dry up.

That has hit passenger traffic at the airport hard. Some 22.2 million travelers passed through its gates in 2020, meaning that passenger volume at McCarran fell 56.9% compared with 2019, according to the Clark County Department of Aviation.

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