Enplanement trends improve for XNA, Fort Smith

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 89 views 

With not as many service points as other regional airports, the severe weather during May was a cause in Fort Smith Regional Airport traffic declining almost 3% in May. Traffic in to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) was up over 4% in May.

The Fort Smith Regional Airport, which is served by flights from Memphis and Dallas-Fort Worth, posted May enplanements of 7,976, down 2.75% compared to May 2012.

For the first five months of 2013, enplanements at the airport total 34,165, down 4.56% compared to the same period in 2012. Although down, the trend is improving. Enplanements during the first quarter were down 7.4% compared to the same period in 2012.

Airport Director John Parker said several weather events during May interrupted traffic in and out of Fort Smith.

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.

Travelers flying out of XNA during May totaled 54,620, up 4.39% compared to the 52,323 during May 2012. The airport has more than 10 service connections.

For the first five months of the year, XNA enplanements total 228,294, up 3.48% compared to the same period in 2012. Traffic gains are trending positive at the airport. Enplanements were up 2.42% during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the 2012 period.

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.

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), totaled 341,413 during the the first four months of 2013, down 3.59% compared to the 2012 quarter. April 2013 enplanements totaled 93,998, up 0.23% compared to April 2012. (May numbers were not available as of June 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 May domestic (U.S.) revenue passenger traffic was down 2.1% compared to May 2012. The Fort Worth-based airline reported total enplanements for the month of 9.37 million, down 1.1% compared to May 2012. For the year, total enplanements for American reached 44.056 million, down 0.2%.

Delta, which is also a major carrier at XNA and Fort Smith, reported that May enplanements for its domestic and international routes totaled 16.767 million, up 1.4%. For the first five months of the year, enplanements totaled 75.389 million, down 0.2%.

Enplanements in Delta’s U.S. regional routes totaled 1.923 million in May, down 5.9% compared to May 2013.

Airlines for America, the trade group for the U.S. airline industry, reported May 16 that it estimates U.S. airlines will carry almost 209 million passengers globally from June through August, up 1% from the same period in 2012. The system-wide summer estimate includes 27 million international passengers, a record number for U.S. airlines.

This marks the largest summer volume for U.S. airlines since 2008, when more than 210 million traveled. The trade group attributed the uptick to “rising household net worth and corporate profits, strong airline operational performance and recent relief in energy prices.”

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.