Northwest Arkansas National Airport put up its 26th consecutive month of passenger growth, but there’s more than a little trepidation about whether that steady growth is going to end soon.
The number of February passengers increased 15% when compared to February 2019 as worries about coronavirus spread hadn’t impacted Northwest Arkansas air travel yet. The local impacts started to show up in the first few days of March.
The March passenger statistics are almost certain to be less rosy and that should continue potentially beyond that. Airlines are seeing fewer flights booked, and they are reducing how often they fly. The reductions are increasingly being felt in Northwest Arkansas.
United Airlines, for example, put a four-month suspension on its once-a-day nonstop flight from XNA to San Francisco. The airline announced the suspension March 4, and it’ll be effective April 1 through Sept. 30. United also reduced the frequency of its flights in April to Houston and Chicago O’Hare, but it’s not certain whether those reductions will be extended beyond next month.
Other airlines, including Allegiant Air, American and Delta, are making their own reductions, but it’s not clear yet which ones will adjust their XNA service.
As for February, XNA’s numbers were impressive just as they have been month after month for more than two years. To put the monthly stats in perspective, the airport saw 2,315 people fly on an average day in February, about 200 more per day than in February 2019.
Frontier Airlines, which made 12 flights to Denver in February, averaged 111 passengers per trip.
Frontier’s low-fare offerings on flights to Denver has caused other airlines serving XNA to reduce how much they charge for trips to the Mile High City.
Allegiant Air’s growth at XNA remains impressive as the airline made 20 flights from the airport in February 2019, and it increased to 29 last month. It averaged 123 passenger per flight, making trips to Destin, Las Vegas, Nashville, Phoenix/Mesa and Orlando/Sanford during the month.