2013 enplanements up at XNA, down at Fort Smith Regional

Editor’s note: This story is a component of The Compass Report. The quarterly Compass Report is managed by The City Wire and presented by Fort Smith-based Benefit Bank. Other supporting sponsors of The Compass Report are Cox Communications and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Results were mixed in 2013 for Arkansas’ regional airports. Enplanements at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) were up for the second consecutive year, while Fort Smith Regional Airport enplanements were down, ending three consecutive years of gains.

Full year enplanement numbers for the Bill & Hillary Clinton Airport (Little Rock National Airport) were not available as of Jan. 27.

The Fort Smith Regional Airport, which is served by flights from Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth, posted December enplanements of 6,766, up 3.3% compared to December 2012.

However, for all of 2013, enplanements at the airport total 84,520, down 2.46% compared to the same period in 2012. And while the decline is an improvement compared to the 7.4% year-over-year decline at the end of the first quarter, it ends three consecutive years of enplanement gains at the airport.

Enplanements at the Fort Smith Regional Airport totaled 86,653 during 2012, just ahead of the 86,234 in 2011, and marked three consecutive years of enplanement gains.

American Airlines continues to be the largest carrier at Fort Smith with 58% of all enplanements during 2013. Enplanements for American totaled 49,041, down 2.99% compared to 2012. Delta enplanements totaled 35,479, down 1.72% compared to 2012.

Travelers flying out of XNA during December totaled 44,521, up 5.9% compared to the 42,034 during December 2012. The airport has more than 10 service connections with five carriers. The December traffic increases at XNA and Fort Smith came against thousands of U.S. flight cancellations in early December because of major winter storms.

For all of 2013, XNA enplanements totaled 579,679, up 2.58% compared to the same period in 2012. The enplanement growth has remained stable through the year, with enplanements up 2.42% at the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Enplanements at XNA totaled 565,045 during 2012, up just 0.4% compared to 2011. Although slight, the gain prevented XNA from posting two-consecutive years of enplanement declines.

American Airlines remains the dominant carrier at XNA with around 43% of all enplanements during 2013. Delta is second with around 27% of enplanements followed by United Airline at around 15%.

XNA’s first full year of traffic was 1999, and the airport posted eight consecutive years of enplanement gains before seeing a decline in 2008. It reached a peak of 598,886 in 2007.

Enplanements at the Bill & Hillary Clinton Airport (Little Rock National Airport) were 84,442 in November, down 10.46% compared to November 2012.

Enplanements for the first 11 months of 2013 were 1.002 million, down 5.43% compared to the same period of 2012.

Enplanements in 2012 totaled 1.147 million, up 4.07% compared to 2011. The 2012 numbers ended five consecutive years of enplanement declines at Arkansas’ largest commercial field.

Enplanements in the U.S. for the first 10 months of 2013 – the most recent figures from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics – totaled 62.007 million, up 1.76% compared to the same period in 2012.

American Airlines reported systemwide December enplanements of 9.151 million, up 2.2% compared to December 2012. For the year, the airline reported 108.735 million enplanements, up 0.7% compared to 2012.

Delta Air Lines reported system enplanements during December of 13.36 million, up 7.1% compared to December 2012. For the year, enplanements totaled 164.656 million systemwide, just slightly ahead of the 164.591 million during 2012.