More people departed Northwest Arkansas National Airport in July than at any point during the Covid-19 pandemic, the airport indicated today.
Many of the 66,324 passengers returned to the skies for the first time since the pandemic began impacting air travel nationwide and at XNA in early 2020. Those who did fly last month were able to take advantage of nonstop flights to new places, including Breeze Airways flights to New Orleans and San Antonio, and Allegiant Air trips to Austin and St. Pete/Clearwater.
XNA’s low-cost carriers — Allegiant, Breeze and Frontier Airlines — carried 25.7% of all travelers last month, showing that the carriers that often sell roundtrip flights for less than $200 are an increasingly important part of what’s happening at XNA. In comparison, low-cost carriers accounted for 15.3% of the airport’s travelers in July 2019, one of the busiest months in the airport’s history.
July this year was especially strong for Allegiant Air, which carried more passengers than it ever has at XNA. Its 12,261 passengers traveled to Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Nashville, Destin and the two destinations that launched in July. The airline has provided service at XNA since mid-2009, and it’s been adding service rapidly. It’ll add nonstop, twice-a-week flights to Fort Lauderdale, Punta Gorda and Houston before year’s end.
It’s not clear yet how Covid-19’s delta variant will impact air travel going forward. Passenger numbers typically decrease slightly in August as the summer travel season comes to an end and families turn their attention to fall school schedules.
August’s airline schedule does include more low-cost service. Frontier this week started its twice-a-week flight to Las Vegas, providing XNA passengers with nonstop competition to the popular leisure destination. Allegiant has flown to the city for more than a decade.
If August is particularly strong, it’s possible that the airport can exceed the amount of flying that occurred in 2020 in just eight months. There have been 296,000 fliers so far this year, and there were 360,000 in 2020.
Before the pandemic, XNA was seeing record-breaking travel, including its highest-ever number of passengers. The airport had 922,533 boardings in 2019.