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It’s not just Taylor Swift: Record number of private jet flights expected for this year’s Super Bowl

<i>Adam Hunger/AP</i><br/>Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas where Super Bowl XVIII will be played on Sunday. The game is expected to draw a record number of private jets to the the four airports surrounding the city.
Adam Hunger/AP
Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas where Super Bowl XVIII will be played on Sunday. The game is expected to draw a record number of private jets to the the four airports surrounding the city.

By Chris Isidore, CNN

New York (CNN) — No one’s trip to the Super Bowl is getting more attention than Taylor Swift. Her plan to make it from a Saturday night concert in Tokyo to Vegas for Sunday’s big game depends on a private jet. But she’s not the only one who isn’t flying commercial.

Clark County expects more than 1,000 private jets to fly in to one of four airports in or near Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, likely setting a record for that form of transportation for the well-heeled.

The Super Bowl typically draws the highest number of US private jet flights of any event during the course of a year, according to WingX, which tracks private jet traffic. Those with means to spend thousands 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 Vegas, with its flow of high rollers, is a major destination for private jets throughout the year. So it’s not surprising that the city’s first Super Bowl could be a record breaker for private jet traffic.

Last year’s big game drew 920 planes flying to and from the game in suburban Phoenix, according to WingX. The record was 984 jets taking fans to Miami in 2020, just before the pandemic hit.

The planes will be using Harry Reid International Airport, the city’s airport for commercial flights, which is just on the other side of the Las Vegas Strip and Interstate 15 from Allegiant Stadium, where the game is being played. They’ll also use three private jet airports – North Las Vegas and Henderson Executive Airport, each about 11 miles away in opposite directions, and Boulder City, about 25 miles to the east, near Hoover Dam.

But even those four airports combined only have space to park 500 jets between the time most arrive from Thursday through Saturday, and Monday, when there will be a rush of planes leaving, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We are looking at a good amount of drop and go operations. That’s common in this kind of event,” said Joe Rajchel, a spokesman for the Clark County Department of Aviation. The private planes will be flown to another location and wait for word that their passengers are ready to leave.

WingX said the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November drew 927 private jet flights, with the majority coming from California. Rajchel said there will be even more expected this week.

“We’re looking at 1,000 or more in and out,” he said.

The rush of flights started Thursday, with 263 private jets arriving at the four airports, according to FlightAware. That’s nearly 30% of all the flights that arrived at the four airports on Thursday, including commercial flights.

It’s not just parking places at a premium. Landing slots are also fully booked and have been for months, with the airports and fixed-based operators, which service private jets at the airports. But it’s tough to imagine that Taylor Swift’s private jet will have trouble getting a landing slot when she is expected to fly in on Saturday. Overseeing the process has been a joint effort of the FAA and the National Football League.

“FAA is working with law enforcement, the aviation community and the National Football League to ensure safe, secure and efficient aircraft operations for Super Bowl LVIII,” the FAA said in a statement emailed to CNN.

The impact on climate

The attention to Taylor Swift’s private jet travel plans has brought some attention to the climate change implications of those flights.

Jet travel, whether via large commercial jet or small private jet, is a major source of carbon emissions, responsible for about 800 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to the International Energy Agency, or more than 2% of total energy-related emissions globally.

While private jets burn a fraction of a commercial jet’s fuel consumption, they burn an estimated 10 times more per passenger mile traveled given their limited capacity, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based progressive think tank.

Private jet travel nationwide travel last year was down from the record set in 2022, according to WingX, but still up from pre-pandemic levels.

“Undoubtedly the pandemic triggered a much higher demand for business jet travel, primarily for health reasons first (travel bubble), as well as the convenience of moving away from locked-down areas,” said Richard Koe, managing director of WingX, in an email to CNN. “The demand cooled in 2023, with some of the first time users going back to the airlines. But many new users have stayed flying private.”

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