Northwest Arkansas National Airport is going through a transition that’s providing more frequent cost-saving wins for the region’s leisure travelers.
Travelers are increasingly able to purchase nonstop roundtrip fares for less than $150, making family vacations and weekend getaways to Austin, New Orleans, Denver, San Antonio and Tampa easier and less expensive than only a few years ago. It’s not difficult to find roundtrips for less than $100 if the purchase is timed right.
Last week’s announcement by Breeze Airways that it’ll fly nonstop from XNA to New Orleans, San Antonio and Tampa coupled with a recent Allegiant Air decision to offer twice-a-week flights to Austin means the number of seats sold by low-cost carriers at XNA will rise to almost 30%.
Just 11% of the seats sold at XNA were offered by a low-cost carrier in May 2019. All those seats were sold by Allegiant Air, the airport’s only low-cost carrier at the time.
Now, Allegiant, Breeze Airways and Frontier Airlines, which started making three-times-a-week flights to Denver in June 2019, are XNA’s three low-cost carriers.
Once Breeze gets its destinations started (Tampa on June 17; San Antonio and New Orleans on July 15), the three low-cost carriers will be selling an average of 735 seats a day from XNA.
It’s not clear yet how legacies American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines will respond to the new nonstop offerings by Breeze Airways, but their responses to new offerings by Allegiant and Frontier hint at how things may play out.
In mid-2019, Frontier created a stir with its new nonstop trips to Denver, and United, in turn, cut its prices. United often sold seats for $175 roundtrip or less on days when Frontier flew, but United charged about $350 on other days.
The competition between the airlines remains meaningful. For example, both Frontier and United today were selling late September roundtrips to Denver for about $160. But if a passenger were to travel on days when Frontier isn’t an option, United charges $335.
There’s been less price reaction to Allegiant’s planned flights to Austin, starting on July 2. For example, Allegiant wanted $79 roundtrip to take travelers to Austin in mid-August, but the legacy carriers wanted more than $300 when prices were checked online today.
The $39 one-way introductory fares offered by Breeze when the airline made its plans public on Friday will be difficult for American, Delta and United to match, and none of the three competitors offer nonstop service to New Orleans, San Antonio or Tampa.
Breeze has hundreds of seats available at the $39 price, and they are only available on the Breeze Airways website.
Pictured at the top: Breeze Airways, which announced Friday that it will start flights from Northwest Arkansas National Airport on June 17, will use the 118-seat Embraer 195 for the flights to Tampa. Flights to New Orleans and San Antonio, which start July 15, will be on 108-seat Embraers.