Travel is starting to increase at Northwest Arkansas National Airport, but it’s a long way from the norm.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of passengers in May remained low at XNA with just 8,725 outbound travelers, but it was far better than the 3,151 people who boarded flights in April. The airport released its May stats today.
While American Airlines reduced its number of flights and focused on trips to Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare and Charlotte, it remained the airport’s top carrier. It typically carries 51% of XNA travelers each month, but it was 66% in May as other airlines made more drastic cuts to their flight schedules.
The May surprise was Allegiant Air, a low-cost carrier focused on leisure travel destinations like Destin. Allegiant was the airport’s No. 2 airline, carrying 1,223 passengers, or 14% of all travelers. Allegiant last year carried 7% of XNA travelers. The airline’s 16 flights in May were about half full, averaging 76 passengers. In normal times, Allegiant flights from XNA are packed.
The airport’s three other airlines — Delta, Frontier and United — pulled back on their XNA flights in May when compared to the same month last year. Delta and United carried fewer than 1,000 passengers apiece in May. Frontier averaged just 48 passengers on its four flights to Denver last month.
The good news for XNA is that airlines are expanding their offerings gradually. American, for instance, has added nonstop flights to Miami and Washington Reagan back to its schedule on July 7. Allegiant, meanwhile, has restarted its twice-a-week flights to Las Vegas after not flying them at all in April and for most of May.
Travelers are expected to take some precautions when they do fly because of the risk posed by COVID-19. Many airports across the nation, including XNA, require travelers to wear face coverings or face masks over their nose and face while in their facilities. Most airlines, including American, Delta, United and Frontier, have the same requirement on flights.