Northwest Arkansas National Airport ended last year with 360,133 passengers, a massive decline from its record-breaking 2019.
The airport’s year-end statistics, made public on Wednesday, show just how much the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the airport and the airlines that serve it.
The airport, which opened in late 1998, had 329,216 passengers in 1999, its first full year. It’s the only time the airport saw fewer passengers than it did in 2020.
The 360,133 was a 61% decrease from the 922,000 who flew from XNA in 2019.
Frontier Airlines, which sells flights to Denver, was the only airline at XNA that carried almost the same number of passengers in 2020 as it did the previous year. However, it didn’t start service at XNA until late June 2019, meaning it six months at XNA exceeded its passengers in all of 2020.
Delta Air Lines, which under normal circumstances provides service to Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York LaGuardia and Atlanta, has focused on Atlanta during the pandemic. That’s led to a continuing decline in its presence at XNA. In 2014 and 2015, Delta carried about 26% of all XNA passengers, but that declined to 20% in 2019 and just 15% last year.
American Airlines, meanwhile, remains XNA’s top dog. It has carried at least 40% of all passengers each year since the airport’s opening, and it’s exceeded 50% since 2014. It carried 53% of travelers last year.
United Airlines has continued to increase its presence at XNA, but it dramatically decreased its activity at the airport during the pandemic. It carried about 18% of
XNA passengers, pausing its service to San Francisco and Newark and focusing on trips to Houston, Denver and Chicago O’Hare in recent months.
Allegiant Air, which generally flies twice a week to Las Vegas and Orlando/Sanford and that also provides seasonal service to four other destinations, was the only airline to carry even half as many passengers last year as it did in 2019. It accounted for 10% of all XNA passengers last year.