Las Vegas airport viewing lot remains closed, victim of pandemic

Crowds of spectators on the Sunset Road airport viewing area watch as a Antonov Airlines AN-225 ...

A popular place to spend some free time and watch airplanes land and depart near the border of Harry Reid International Airport is apparently likely to remain closed.

The Sunset Road viewing area, just west of Eastern Avenue, was closed in April 2020 as COVID-19 was spreading worldwide.

Open about 18 hours a day, photographers frequently could be observed getting pictures of commercial airliners but also some of the largest aircraft in the world or other significant planes. Photographers have used ladders to get their lens above the chain-link fence that surrounds the 10th busiest airport in the world.

For more than 24 months, the lot immediately off Sunset Road that has room for three dozen vehicles has been padlocked.

There is no timetable for it to reopen, an airport official said.

“As part of early cost-containment measures, our workforce’s weekly hours were reduced, some accepted the County’s voluntary separation program, and most outside support contracts were eliminated,” Clark County Department of Aviation spokesman Joe Rajchel said in an email. “Keeping the viewing area open diverts staff from other necessary duties when opening its gates each morning, and again when closing it down each evening.”

Among the staffing challenges, Rajchel said, were cleaning the lot and getting rid of excess garbage, which could attract birds that could become a danger for aircraft engines.

“Each of these processes requires staff members’ time, and our men and women have been more urgently needed for other, more essential airport duties,” he said. “By necessity, we prioritized our resources first and foremost on functions that are essential to air travel, while also taking account of ensuring the public’s well-being on our properties.

“We are hopeful to be able to reopen it soon, but there is no date set,” Rajchel added. “It is a popular spot in our community, so of course we have had those asking when it will be reopened.”

Airplane lovers and those in search of a free activity or cheap date night will just have to keep waiting.

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Marv_in_Vegas on Twitter.