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Northwest Arkansas National Airport saw 5,000 more passengers in June than it did the previous month, continuing its steady recovery from the lowest points of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airport saw 58,050 passengers board commercial flights departing from Northwest Arkansas. It was more than three times the number of passengers who boarded flights at XNA than June 2020.

It’s the low-cost carriers focused on the trips of leisure travelers that are having the best success at XNA right now as business travel remains far less than normal.

Officials with airlines and hotel operators nationwide have suggested business travel is at least several months from reaching 70% of the volume that occurred in 2019. Corporate travel managers are monitoring the safety practices of airlines and hotels as well as national and state vaccinations rates as they decide when their companies’ workers can return to flying.

Allegiant Air and Frontier, which offer low-cost flights to cities such as Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford and Destin, are seeing the most passengers on their planes.

Allegiant flew 65 times last month, averaging 141 people per flight. Frontier’s 13 flights to Denver averaged 161 passengers. Those two airlines use far larger planes at XNA than their competitors.

The airport’s newcomer — low-cost carrier Breeze Airways — started flying to Tampa on June 17. Its eight flights during the month on 118-seat planes averaged 66 people.

Every indication suggests July travel is likely to far exceed what happened last month as the low-cost airlines at XNA have added new nonstop destinations.

Breeze added New Orleans and San Antonio to its offerings this month, and Allegiant Air now flies nonstop to Austin and St. Petersburg/Clearwater All four of those destinations should gain the attention of leisure travelers wanting to fly to new places.

More new nonstop destinations will arrive before year’s end. They include:

  • Frontier plans twice-a-week trips to Las Vegas, starting Aug. 13.
  • Allegiant goes to Fort Lauderdale, beginning Oct. 8.
  • Allegiant flights to Houston’s Hobby airport start Nov. 19.

While XNA is seeing more passengers each month, some aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic remain significant at XNA and on the planes. A federal requirement that all passengers in airports and on planes where masks to protect themselves and others against COVID-19 remains in place.