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How many ways are there to say record-breaking?

There’s best ever, most ever, peak and unprecedented scale. All-time best and all-time high both work, and there’s No. 1 and most.

Things are so busy at Northwest Arkansas National Airport these days that it’s increasingly necessary to become repetitive when it comes to the airport’s seemingly constant records when it comes to passengers.

XNA’s best-ever this time is in monthly passengers, and it comes on the heels of record-breaking days.

Information was shared today that showed XNA saw 99,357 people board outbound flights in May. The previous best was June 2023 (97,842 passengers).

Here’s the kicker: The May record is almost certain to be obliterated this month as five days in June so far are among the 20 busiest days in the history of XNA.

More affordable options

What in the world is going on at XNA?

Much of the flying of late can be attributed to summer vacations that start soon after the school year ends.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that XNA has far more affordable flights than it did only a few years ago. That makes XNA more attractive to leisure travelers. A family of four flying to a destinations for less than $1,000 isn’t always easy to accomplish from XNA, but it’s possible.

Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air started selling seats on planes from XNA more than a decade ago. Now, additional service being offered by Allegiant coupled with the arrivals of Frontier Airlines (2019) and Breeze Airways (2021) have dramatically increased the availability of low-cost options.

While business travelers can worry less about the airfare, many leisure travelers would be driving to their destinations or to other airports if not for the availability of low-cost flights.

Regional growth

Just as importantly, Northwest Arkansas keeps increasing in population. With 12,000 to 13,000 people a year being added to the population of Benton and Washington counties and the expectation that the two counties will exceed 1 million by 2050, many of those newcomers are interested in business and leisure travel. They rely on the services of the airlines, and XNA is the closest, best option.

While those 1 million people account for how many will be in both counties, there’s every expectation that the majority will live in Benton County. And, within Benton County, some of the fastest-growing cities — including Bentonville, Cave Springs and Centerton — are right at XNA’s doorstep.