Business and tourism travel out of the Fort Smith Regional Airport continues to grow, with enplanements up almost 5% through the first nine months of 2019. September enplanements grew at almost 7%.
According to a report from airport officials, September enplanements – the number of people traveling out of the airport – totaled 8,375, up 6.94% compared with September 2018. For the first nine months of the year, enplanements reached 70,088, up 4.85% compared with the 66,841 enplanements in the same period of 2018.
2018 enplanements of 90,501 were up just 1% compared with the 89,582 in 2017.
Landy Westphal, with Universal Travel in Fort Smith, said ticket prices that are cheaper or the same price as those out of Tulsa and the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport provide incentive for people in the Fort Smith metro to use the Fort Smith facility. She also said business at Universal Travel, which is owned by Susan and Ron Tucker, is 95% leisure travel.
“And that’s been constant,” Westphal said of people seeking information about or buying tickets for vacation travel.
Enplanements at the airport in 2018 were up for the third straight year. They totaled 90,501 in 2018, up 1% from 89,582 in 2017 and 87,488 in 2016. Following are enplanement totals since 2010.
American Airlines is the most active in Fort Smith and is responsible for the traffic gains. Enplanements through American Airlines totaled 50,247 during the first nine months of 2019, up 8.64% compared with the same period in 2018. Delta Airlines, which travels only to Atlanta out of Fort Smith, had Fort Smith enplanements of 19,841 in the first nine months, down 3.65% compared with the same period in 2018. American Airlines had 62,738 enplanements in 2018, and Delta ended the year with 27,763 enplanements.
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.
Enplanements out of Little Rock are up 6.12% between January and August, and XNA enplanements are 16.7% through August.