April goes down as the slowest month in Northwest Arkansas National Airport’s more than 20 years, but there are signs that traffic will start to increase slowly in the coming weeks.
Statistics shared by the airport on Monday show just 3,151 passengers boarded flights at XNA in April, 95.6% less than same month in 2019. Similar reductions in flying are being experienced at airports across the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic didn’t impact March travel at XNA until the middle of the month, but it was felt for all of April. The airport’s previous worst month was November 1998, its first month in operation. It had more than 13,000 fliers that month.
What’s difficult to predict is when Northwest Arkansas travelers will return to XNA, but the airport is starting to see a few more passengers boarding flights. That’s true at other airports, too, including Bradenton, Fla., and Austin, Texas.
A survey by the Global Business Travel Association on April 17-22 included 1,600 member companies and it showed 61% of participants expected to see domestic travel restart in two or three months.
Airlines continue to take actions intended to ensure passengers’ safety from COVID-19 as they fly. For example, four airlines serving XNA — American, Delta, Frontier and United — are requiring their passengers to wear facemasks while flying. Allegiant, XNA’s other airline, is providing passengers with a health and safety kit when they board flights, but wearing the facemask is not required.
Northwest Arkansas National Airport announced on Monday that it’s requiring most people to wear masks while in the airport’s terminal. It’s not required for children under age 10.