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New statistics just about guarantee that 2022 will go down as the second-busiest year at Northwest Arkansas National Airport.

The 71,920 people who boarded flights at the airport in November push the year’s total to 768,065. If December ends up with slightly fewer passengers than November, which is the norm at XNA, the airport will finish the year just short of 840,000 passengers.

The airport’s busiest year was 2019 when 922,533 passengers boarded flights.

The importance of rising passenger numbers cannot be overstated. The airport receives a $4.50 passenger-facility charge every time a person boards a flight (it’s included in the price of airfare), and the airport uses that money to pay for airport improvements.

Just as importantly, airlines that notice more passengers at XNA are more likely to increase the number of times they fly to existing destinations. It can spur airlines to consider new nonstop destinations, too.

American Airlines, the dominate airline at XNA since the day it opened 24 years ago, was busier than usual in November. It carried 51.5% of all XNA passengers last month. For the year, American accounts for 47.5%.

American in November averaged 18 flights a day from XNA. On a typical day, seven of those flights went to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. DFW has more flights that every other destination.