Las Vegas’ McCarran Airport to be Renamed After Senator Harry Reid

By Jesse Sokolow on 18 February 2021
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McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas will soon change its name to honor former Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

A county board for Clark County, where the airport is located, voted unanimously on Tuesday to rename the airport after the retired 81-year-old lawmaker. The airport will file a change with the Federal Aviation Administration, and the new name, Harry Reid International Airport, will be officially recognized later this year.

Reid served in the Senate for 30 years before retiring in 2017, and was the Senate Majority Leader between 2007 and 2015, one of only three senators to hold the position for more than eight years. He earned strong support in his home state of Nevada for opposing the construction of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, while in Washington, he was a strong proponent for immigration reform, namely, making it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain U.S. citizenship.

“It is with humility that I express my appreciation for the recognition today,” Reid said in a statement Tuesday.

Pat McCarran, the airport’s current namesake, also served as a Democratic Senator from Nevada, between 1933 and 1954. Although he sponsored the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, McCarran was also known for supporting racist policies and holding anti-Semitic views.

Built in 1942, the airport opened to flights as Alamo Field in 1948 and the aerodrome was renamed McCarran Field later that year. It served 35,000 passengers in its first year of operation with airlines including Western, TWA, and United using its facilities.  In 2019, the year before the coronavirus pandemic reduced air travel, the airport saw over 51 million passengers.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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