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New statistics show Northwest Arkansas National Airport passengers are benefitting in a big way from competition that’s reduced air travel costs.

The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported today that domestic roundtrips in the third quarter of 2019 averaged $468. That’s 9.7% less than XNA passengers paid in the third quarter of the previous year ($518).

The third-quarter statistics provide Northwest Arkansas with its first glimpse of what low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines is helping to change at Northwest Arkansas National Airport. The airline, which started providing its flights to Denver on June 27, had little impact on the second-quarter statistics.

The airline’s 186-seat Airbuses fly three times a week to Denver, and the flights routinely cost less than $150 roundtrip. Frontier’s presence caused United Airlines to charge less for its Denver flights. That head-to-head competition is a win for passengers looking to save money.

Even without Frontier on the scene at XNA, airfares fell markedly in the first and second quarters of 2019. The BTS reported roundtrip fares fell 5.7% in the first quarter compared to the same quarter in the previous year. The second-quarter fares were 9.3% less than the second quarter of 2018.

There’s another low-fare competitor at XNA  — Allegiant Air — that’s helping drive down fares. It offered more flights in 2019, expanding its impact.

Allegiant offers nonstop flights to Destin, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando/Sanford and Phoenix-Mesa, creating a less-expensive alternative to the connecting flights offered by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United to those same cities. Allegiant last year added summertime flights to Nashville and wintertime flights to Phoenix/Mesa.

There are deals to be found on other airlines, too. Roundtrip travel to New York (on Delta and American) and Newark (on United) is often near $200 from XNA.

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