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Passengers continued their steady return to flying as Northwest Arkansas National Airport recorded one of its best months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fueled by the availability of new low-cost flights and people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, leisure travelers helped turn last month into the third-best November in the airport’s 22 years.

XNA saw 68,312 people board flights. The all-time November high at XNA came in 2019 when 76,199 people flew.

The airport is now on a clear path past 600,000 travelers for the year, far more than the 360,000 who took off from XNA in 2020. The airport’s best year was 2019 when 922,000 passengers boarded flights.

November travel was boosted by the rising number of options from XNA as low-cost carriers started service to new destinations.

Frontier Airlines launched twice-a-week flights to Orlando International Airport, the best option for those bound for Disney World. It created competition for Allegiant Air that flies to the Sanford airport that’s a short distance from Orlando.

Allegiant added its own flights, taking off for the first time from XNA to Punta Gorda (Nov. 17) and Houston Hobby (Nov. 19). Flights to both destinations occur twice a week.

Low-cost carriers Allegiant, Frontier and Breeze Airways continue to to catch the attention of a growing number of passengers looking for affordable flights. Those carriers, which often sell roundtrips for less than $100, have added flights to 10 cities this year.

The affordability helped low-cost carriers increase  their share of XNA’s travelers to about 18%. Prior to 2019, Allegiant had been the airport’s only low-cost carrier, and it carried about 5% of all XNA passengers.