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An increase in leisure travel is starting to boost traffic at Northwest Arkansas National Airport, but the numbers remain far below record-breaking 2019.

The airport released statistics today showing there were 16,635 passengers boarding flights at XNA in June. The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced air travel worldwide, and June travel at XNA was 82% less than June 2019.

Yet, airport traffic is improving slowly. There were 3,151 XNA fliers in April and 8,739 in May.

The airport as well as all five airlines serving it — Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier and United — require passengers to wear face masks in the terminal and on flights. Allegiant had been the lone exception, but it started enforcing a mask requirement on July 2. The airport keeps other COVID-19, safety-related information on its website.

As it has been since the day XNA opened 21 years ago, American Airlines remained the busiest airline. It carried nearly 58% of the airport’s June travelers, and it’s maintained more of its flights than its competitors. American took off 258 times in June, averaging 35 passengers per flight.

Its nonstops have increased gradually since the pandemic began curtailing air travel. It has provided flights from XNA to Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare and Charlotte throughout the pandemic, and it has added nonstop service to Miami and Washington Reagan to its XNA schedule this month.

For Allegiant Air, June brought more XNA passengers than any month this year. The leisure-focused airline sells nonstop flights to Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Los Angeles and Nashville right now, and it spent its second month in a row as the airport’s No. 2 carrier. It more commonly ranks No. 4 behind American, United and Delta.

With 3,958 passengers in June, Allegiant averaged about 81 passengers per trip.

June wasn’t as busy for Delta, Frontier or United.

Low-cost carrier Frontier flew the XNA-Denver route just four times, averaging 101 passengers per flight.

United, which has limited its flights from XNA to just Houston and Chicago O’Hare, is averaging 24 passengers on those flights. It’s not known when it will return nonstop offerings to Newark and Denver. The airline hasn’t indicated whether it will stick with its initial plan announced in March to restart XNA-to-San Francisco service in October.

Delta, which is only flying nonstop to Atlanta for now, averaged 27 passengers. The airline has paused its nonstop service from XNA to New York LaGuardia and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

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