If you were pressed to say which entity has the greatest economic impact in Northwest Arkansas, what would your answer be?

We’d certainly list the University of Arkansas, the Beaver Water District, the Walmart Home Office and a few others that make huge economic contributions. But none of those impact our region in the unique way that the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, its airlines and car rental agencies do.

5,807

Jobs That XNA Supports

8.7

More People Flying From XNA in 2018 than 2017

$463

Economic Impact of XNA

20

For Every Passenger

The Economic Impact of Arkansas Airports, a study published this year by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics, said XNA’s impact in 2016 was $463.3 million. Its presence in the region supports 5,807 jobs.

The number of people flying from XNA was 12.6 percent higher in 2018 compared to 2016 so it’s reasonable to assume the airport’s economic impact now tops $500 million annually. Yet, it could be far, far more.

One way to increase the impact is to fly more often from XNA, and reduce how often people drive to more distant airports to catch flights. We know XNA’s leakage is high, and our FareFlightNWA program was established to keep more people flying from our home airport.

How much impact can you alone make?

James Irwin, a former member of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority, used to say every passenger departing from XNA brought the airport about $20 and that’s still a pretty accurate number. It comes in the portion of parking fees that are retained by the airport, the $4.50 passenger facility charge that’s part of every airline fare and other charges. The rule of thumb then and now is $20 per passenger.

The $20 provides a direct benefit to our region. It helps in creating local jobs as it makes it possible for the companies that operate in Arkansas and at XNA to grow.

The most important benefit of spending that $20 at XNA is you’ll be helping drive up XNA’s passenger count and that is sure to get the attention of the airlines. You’ll be part of causing Allegiant Air, American, Delta, United and Frontier Airlines to increase how much they fly from XNA, and you’ll be helping XNA and the Northwest Arkansas Council get the attention of JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and all the airlines we want to serve XNA sooner rather than later.