Enplanements were up during April at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) and the Fort Smith Regional Airport, with the year-to-date traffic up at XNA and down in Fort Smith.
Travelers flying out of XNA during April totaled 46,690, up 3.2% compared to the 44,310 during April 2012. For the first four months of the year, XNA enplanements total 173,674, up 5.37% compared to the same period in 2012. Enplanements were up 2.42% during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the 2012 period.
XNA officials continue to work to land a discount carrier in an effort to provide more price and travel options. Airport officials have said the more expensive fares out of XNA are sending some travelers to other airports.
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 Fort Smith Regional Airport totaled 7,231 during April, down 1.57% compared to April 2012.
For the first four months of 2013, enplanements at the airport total 26,189, down 5.1% compared to the same period in 2012. Enplanements during the first quarter were down 7.4% compared to the same period in 2012.
Airport Director John Parker said there are many factors which play into traffic changes, so it is difficult to say what is driving the pattern in Fort Smith. He did say “we’re optimistic about the numbers” and are hopeful they will improve during the summer travel months.
Enplanements at the Fort Smith Regional Airport totaled 86,653 during 2012, just ahead of the 86,234 in 2011, and marking three consecutive years of enplanement gains.
The April figures at Fort Smith end a monthly downward trend that began in the fourth quarter of 2012. Enplanements were down almost 6% during the 2012 fourth quarter compared to the 2011 period.
Enplanements at the Bill & Hillary Clinton Airport (Little Rock National Airport), totaled 247,424 during the first quarter, down almost 5% compared to the 2012 quarter. March 2013 enplanements totaled 94,153, down 4.55% compared to March 2012. (April numbers were not available as of May 13.)
Enplanements in 2012 totaled 1.147 million, up 4.07% compared to 2011. The 2012 numbers also ended five consecutive years of enplanement declines at Arkansas’ largest commercial field.
American Airlines, the busiest carrier at XNA and Fort Smith, reported that its April domestic (U.S.) traffic was down 1.4% compared to April 2012. The Fort Worth-based airline reported total enplanements for the month of 8.786 million, down 1.6% compared to April 2012. For the year, total enplanements for American reached $34.685 million, up 0.1%.
Delta, which is also a major carrier at XNA and Fort Smith, reported that April enplanements for its domestic and international routes totaled 15.546 million, down 0.7%. For the first four months of the year, enplanements totaled 58.621 million, also down 0.7%.
Enplanements in Delta’s U.S. regional routes totaled 9.147 million for the first four months of 2013, down 7.6% compared to the same period in 2012.
The Boyd Group, an aviation consulting company, predicts that in 2013 the reduction in the number of seats in the commercial aviation system will result in an overall 2% to 2.5% decline in passenger traffic.