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Rental car companies at Northwest Arkansas National Airport more than doubled their number of customers in the first five months of this year, records show.

It’s an indication that travel continues to increase at XNA and elsewhere despite the presence of COVID-19. It also shows the amount of travel at XNA isn’t up to the level of remarkable 2019.

Statistics kept by XNA indicate the six companies’ customers signed 35,837 rental car contracts at XNA from January to May. That’s compared to 15,776 in the first five months of 2021.

Much like airlines, rental car companies serving XNA took massive financial hits after COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S. in early 2020. The pandemic caused thousands of businesspeople and their employers to eliminate as much travel as possible. Although the pandemic isn’t over, many business travelers are back on the road, making trips to XNA to visit Walmart, Tyson Foods and other customers in Northwest Arkansas.

Fees paid by rental car customers are an important revenue source for XNA. The fees paid to the airport by the customers of the rental car companies approached $2.3 million in 2019 before falling back to $963,000 in 2020 due to the pandemic.

While American Airlines carries more than 45% of XNA’s passengers, no single rental car company has so much dominance. Carco-Hertz is the busiest at XNA, accounting for 21.4% of the gross sales followed closely by Budget (20.4%), Avis (19.3%) and Enterprise (19.1%). The total revenue for the six rental car companies at XNA is near $9 million so far this year.

When XNA saw record-breaking passenger numbers on its planes in 2019, the rental car companies had their best year, too. Their revenue that year was $23.6 million with Enterprise ($5.9 million), Hertz ($5.4 million) and Avis ($4.9 million) leading the way.

While FareFlightNWA reports on the statistics provided to the airport by the airlines each month, it hasn’t monitored rental car revenue and contracts in the past.