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Airlines serving Northwest Arkansas National Airport should expect a big summer travel season if March is any indication of what’s just around the corner.

Statistics shared by XNA last week showed 63,695 passengers boarded flights last month. It’s a big enough number to give airlines confidence that air travel from Northwest Arkansas is going to be way up this summer as leisure travelers who’ve put off trips for two years are likely to return to the skies.

Leisure travelers making spring break trips and the public worrying less about the COVID-19 pandemic led to XNA having its best March since 2019. Stories in national publications suggest more travel will increase prices this summer, and trips to beaches in Mexico and Florida are going to be all the rage.

Low-cost airlines grab 21% of fliers

The low-cost carriers serving XNA were especially busy in March.

Allegiant Air boarded 8,219 passengers, accounting for 12.9% of all XNA passengers. The three low-cost carriers — Allegiant, Breeze Airways and Frontier Airlines — carried 21% of all travelers last month.

Breeze Airways, which started flying from XNA to New Orleans, San Antonio and Tampa in the middle of last year, had what was arguably its best month since arriving in Northwest Arkansas. December saw just seven more passengers on Breeze, and that month saw heavy Tampa demand created by the University of Arkansas playing in the Outback Bowl.

American stays No. 1

American Airlines has always been XNA’s top dog, and March was no exception. It carried 27,434 passengers, or 43.1% of all March travelers from XNA.

For the year, American has carried 45% of the airport’s travelers, and that’s less than previous year. Starting in 2014, American has carried at least 49% of XNA’s annual travelers. The airline’s percentage has decreased as the low-cost carriers have increased their presence.

United Airlines, which goes nonstop to Chicago O’Hare, Houston and Denver from XNA, is the airport’s No. 2 carrier. Its 11,624 passengers last month were slightly more than the 11,002 carried by Delta Air Lines.