The average airfares decreased from Northwest Arkansas National Airport to 14 of travelers’ top 20 destinations, a review of federal data shows.
The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics data, reviewed by Volaire Aviation Consulting, shows the biggest declines were on flights to Destin (down 37%), Nashville (down 27.6%) and Denver (down 26.7%).
Allegiant Air flies from XNA to Destin and Nashville, and Frontier Airlines goes to Denver. Those low-cost carriers’ presence is responsible for the overall decreases in flight costs to those cities.
In its review, Volaire looked at average airfare costs between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019 and compared those to the previous 12 months (Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018).
Allegiant’s average fare to Destin over the most recent year was $110 roundtrip, and its competitors averaged $356 (American), $390 (United) and $442 (Delta) to get to the same Florida airport. Allegiant in the most recent year carried 88% of XNA’s Destin-bound fliers.
Improved fares to Nashville can be tied to Allegiant’s decision to fly there last year. Allegiant hadn’t offered flights to the Music City from XNA in the previous year.
In the most recent year, it offered seasonal service, flying twice a week throughout last summer, and the average roundtrip fare on Allegiant was $74 roundtrip. Its competition averaged $422 (United), $448 (Delta) and $526 (American).
The average traveler to Nashville saved $154 per trip when compared to the previous year.
Most interesting is what’s happening at Denver where Frontier started flying on June 27 last year. The average roundtrip fare to Denver is down $124 when compared to the previous year, and that’s largely tied to Frontier’s average being $90 per roundtrip.
American, Delta and United have reacted to the low-cost competition by lowering their own fares, but Frontier still charges less in almost every instance. United’s roundtrips during the most recent 12 months averaged $400 – Delta $486 and American $490. All three legacy airlines charged less in the third quarter of 2019 when Frontier was on the scene.
Fares were down on other routes from XNA, including Houston and San Francisco.
Houston trips were 15% less expensive in the most recent year with travelers saving $74 per trip. The average cost was $412 roundtrip.
Roundtrips to San Francisco, which is a key destination for Walmart because the company operates a large e-commerce operation in nearby San Bruno, were $92 less expensive. Yet, they were still $526 on average. United, which carries most of the San Francisco travelers, averaged $518.
The other destinations with lower fares from XNA included Phoenix/Mesa, Orlando/Sanford, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Miami and Philadelphia.