Northwest Arkansas National Airport will see a series of air service changes in the last half of this year, including Frontier Airlines no longer flying to Las Vegas.
Frontier will fly twice-a-week to Las Vegas through Nov. 4, but the airline’s nonstop flights to Sin City fall off schedules after that.
That should come as disappointing news for people traveling to Las Vegas who’ve benefitted from having Allegiant Air and Frontier compete head to head for their business since August 2021.
Allegiant, which flies twice a week to Las Vegas, will continue serving the route, which has been among its XNA offerings since 2009.
XNA has a number of other changes coming before year’s end, but it’s possible issues such as the national pilot shortage and fuel prices will lead the airlines to adjust those plans.
Phoenix, New Orleans Return
There is some good news when it comes to XNA flights before the end of the year.
Allegiant ‘s seasonal service to the Phoenix/Mesa airport begins Nov. 17. The departure days are a bit inconsistent, but most flights take off on a Thursday or a Sunday. The fares are generally less than $200 roundtrip, but they’re even less in January when a roundtrip can be had for about $100.
The other addition is Breeze Airways and its restart of New Orleans flights. The airline, which first flew to New Orleans in July 2021, paused the route this summer.
The New Orleans route gets going again on Oct. 7, flying every Friday and Monday. Fares are generally less than $200, and they are least expensive in early December (about $110 roundtrip).
U.S. airlines beef up their summertime schedules to Florida to take advantage of travelers’ affinity for sandy beaches, Walt Disney World and other attractions. With the school year about to start and summer vacations winding down, changes are ahead for Allegiant’s flights to airports in Fort Lauderdale, St. Pete/Clearwater and Punta Gorda.
Some of the changes at XNA are consistent with what Allegiant does each year at dozens of U.S. airports.
It’s normal, for example, for Allegiant to reduce its flying to St. Pete/Clearwater in the fall, but the route won’t be idled for long from XNA. It goes away after Aug. 15, and it’s back on the schedule Oct. 6.
Things are less clear regarding Fort Lauderdale and Punta Gorda.
Allegiant’s last Fort Lauderdale flight takes off from XNA on Aug. 14, and it’s not known whether the airline intends to bring it back at some point. The airline’s published schedule through February doesn’t show a Fort Lauderdale flight from XNA, and it’s not possible to buy a seat to Fort Lauderdale on the airline’s website after that Aug. 14 trip.
Regarding Punta Gorda, the flight is available from XNA through Sept. 3, but it’s not for sale after that on the Allegiant Air website. However, the airline does show it on future schedules, according to an airline consultant.
The airline’s media relations office didn’t respond to an email inquiry sent Thursday.
Lots of Florida Remains
Even without those options, XNA has significant service to Florida.
Breeze flies twice a week to Tampa, and Allegiant for years has kept its Orlando/Sanford flights going all year. Moveover, Allegiant’s flights to Destin used to occur only in the summer, but now they remain available from XNA throughout the year.
The only legacy carrier that flies nonstop to Florida — American Airlines — makes the trip to Miami every Saturday. There’s no indication that’ll change.
The only non-Florida change notable on upcoming schedules is Allegiant’s twice-a-week trip to Los Angeles. That seasonal route falls off the schedule after Oct. 30, and it’s likely to return next summer.
Frontier’s Las Vegas Exit
When Frontier started flying to Las Vegas last August, airline industry experts wondered if it would be able to lure passengers from Allegiant and other carriers. Allegiant is the well-established leader, attracting the majority of people traveling there from Northwest Arkansas.
In 2019, the last full year of travel before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about air travel, Allegiant carried 53% of the more than 30,000 people who flew from XNA to Las Vegas. Most of the rest flew American Airlines or United Airlines.
But Allegiant dominated, seeing its flights on the 156-seat Airbus at least 95% full most of the time.
Frontier, however, did lure travelers when it started XNA to Las Vegas trips last year, but it didn’t match Allegiant’s success. Its 180-seat Airbus averaged 104 passengers in the first quarter of this year, down from 114 in the fourth quarter of last year.
With Frontier on the route, Allegiant saw its numbers come down. Its flights averaged a little more than 130 passengers during the two quarters.
Frontier’s presence did have a positive impact on fares from passengers’ perspective.
The average passenger who flew to Las Vegas in this year’s first quarter paid $214 roundtrip, down from $318 in the first quarter 2019. Frontier contributed significantly to the decrease, charging an average fare of $128 earlier this year.