Traffic out of the Fort Smith Regional Airport – up almost 5% in June – is on track to post a fourth year of consecutive gains after a sudden drop in 2015.
June enplanements totaled 8,783, up 4.8% compared with 8,377 in June 2018, according to figures from the airport. January-June enplanements are 44,784, up 4% compared with the 43,065 in the same period of 2018.
Enplanements at the airport in 2018 were up for the third straight year. They totaled 90,501 in 2018, up from 89,582 in 2017 and 87,488 in 2016. Following are enplanement totals since 2010.
Traffic on American Airlines out of Fort Smith totaled 31,429 in the January-June period, up 6.3% compared with the same period in 2018. Delta enplanements totaled 13,355 in the six-month period, down from the 13,493 in the first half of 2018.
Fort Smith is the smallest, in terms of traffic, of Arkansas’ three largest commercial fields. The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) posted 2018 enplanements of 788,261, and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock posted 1.069 million enplanements in 2018.
Fort Smith enplanement growth in June fits with an estimate from the Airlines for America (A4A) trade association. The group predicted earlier this year a record 257.4 million airline passengers – an average of 2.8 million per day – between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2019. If the estimate is met, the traffic would be up 3.4% from last summer’s record 248.8 million passengers.
According to A4A, airlines are adding 111,000 seats per day to meet the expected demand of 93,000 more daily passengers during the summer travel period. If the estimate holds, it will be the 10th consecutive summer for an enplanement increase.
“With airlines offering low fares and reinvesting billions of dollars in their product, there’s never been a better time to fly. This summer, U.S. airlines expect travelers to take to the skies in record numbers,” A4A Vice President and Chief Economist John Heimlich, said in a statement. “Air travel is the nation’s safest form of transportation, and it is now more affordable than ever before. U.S. carriers are making airline flights more and more accessible, so it’s no surprise that more and more Americans are flying.”
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. airline passenger traffic was up 2.2% through March, the latest data the agency reports. March traffic was up 0.1%. Nationwide, enplanements totaled 889.02 million in 2018, up 4.66% from 849.408 million in 2017.