Breeze Airways on Wednesday announced it would add service at Northwest Arkansas National Airport, creating new ways to get to three destinations.
Twice-a-week flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Orlando International Airport will start next year.
Additionally, the airline will establish its first so-called BreezeThru route from XNA. Passengers will be able to fly nonstop to Orlando, keep their seat once they land, never change planes and fly on to Charleston, S.C. Breeze is increasingly offering BreezeThru trips at airports it serves.
The introductory fares are low. The least-expensive trips to Phoenix Sky Harbor and Orlando International sell for $49 each way. Trips to Charleston sell for $69 each way.
Breeze will compete with Allegiant Air for people headed to the Orlando and Phoenix areas. Allegiant serves smaller airports in both metros.
Phoenix Sky Harbor
It’s probable that the new flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor, which start Feb. 17, will be considered a big win by people who live in Northwest Arkansas because XNA already has strong air service going east. The airport’s offerings going west are more limited as the only daily flights are to Denver, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth. Less than daily service takes travelers to the Las Vegas and Phoenix/Mesa airports.
FareFlightNWA, in a blog post on Oct. 5, suggested XNA needs more nonstop offerings going west, mentioning Phoenix, San Francisco and Salt Lake City as the options that would make the most sense for the region and the airlines.
Among people who live in reasonable proximity to XNA (called the airport’s “catchment area), about 60 people a day flew to Phoenix last year. XNA picks up the majority of those people (36), but a sizable portion use Tulsa’s airport (14).
Northwest Arkansas has a long history with Orlando International Airport and Orlando Sanford International Airport, which are separated by 34 miles. Allegiant has served the airport in Sanford from XNA for more than a decade.
XNA’s first commercial flights to the Orlando market were provided by Delta Air Lines. Those daily nonstops to Orlando International started in 2005 but then ended 82 days later when the airline gave up 16 of its 24 gates at the Florida airport as part of its recovery from bankruptcy.
Allegiant Air started its flights to Orlando/Sanford in 2009.
More recently, Frontier Airlines took a shot at making Orlando International Airport work when it started twice-a-week flights to the city in November last year. Those flights ended earlier this year.
Yet, Orlando was the XNA catchment area’s No. 1 destination, attracting 113 people a day to fly to the Orlando metro. The majority of those people (86) use XNA.
Breeze has put a massive interest in building up its offerings in Charleston. Its website shows it offers service to the city from 22 destinations. Several of those are in Florida, but it’s also using its new Airbus 220s to fly from Charleston to western U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
XNA hasn’t previously had anything like the BreezeThru flights to get to Charleston. Those flights go from XNA to Orlando to Charleston every Monday and Thursday, starting March 3.
It will be interesting to see how many people travel to Charleston from XNA as it’s not a top destination in the catchment area. It ranked No. 36, averaging 10 people a day. That’s why the BreezeThru approach makes sense as it combines travelers from Orlando and Northwest Arkansas to fill up the plane that’s headed to Charleston.