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The record-breaking summer travel season at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport closed with impressive August enplanements.

The airport saw 79,582 people board flights in August this year, statistics shared by the airport today show. It was a 15.5 percent increase in passengers compared to August 2018.

The regional airport is coming off its most impressive summer travel season since its opening in 1998. While the airport is recognized for its high percentage of business travelers who take to the skies, the surge in summer travel suggests the airport is increasingly drawing the attention of cost-aware leisure travelers.

During the months of May, June, July and August this year, XNA drew nearly 350,000 fliers this year. The same four months last year saw 290,000 travelers. That’s 20.7 percent more summer travelers.

The airport and its airfares are being helped by the expanded service of Allegiant Air during the summer months and the arrival of Frontier Airlines. Northwest Arkansas is also seeing three airline compete for New York-bound travelers, and that’s driving down fares in a big way.

Allegiant made more flights to its home city of Las Vegas this summer, but it also expanded service to Orlando and Destin. The airline started seasonal trips to Nashville that didn’t end until mid-August. The flights to Nashville restart in February.

Frontier, meanwhile, started flying to Denver on June 27. The airline’s planes were packed in July, but they weren’t as full in August. About 73 percent of the airline’s seats were filled.

The additional service by Allegiant and arrival of Frontier have led to more affordable fares at XNA.

On flights to Denver, Frontier’s fares often beat those of United Airlines, but United has decreased its fares markedly since Frontier started serving the same market. The website Kayak shows Frontier wants just $57 for a mid-September trip to the Mile High City. United wants $177 on the same mid-September travel days.

Most interesting is what’s happening with flights to New York from XNA. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines both serve LaGuardia, and United provides service to nearby Newark. That’s created competition, and it’s been possible to find round-trip fares for $200 to $250 on each of those airlines on many days. There’s no indication that those fares will increase this fall.

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