Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) recently hired Cincinnati-based consultant Landrum & Brown Inc. to determine the feasibility of attracting cargo operations and tenants to the Highfill airport.
The study will help to determine whether XNA needs to invest time and resources into cargo operations as an additional potential revenue stream, said Andrew Branch, chief business development officer for XNA. Alternatively, the study could show the airport isn’t ready yet for cargo operations and could be something to pursue in five to 10 years.
“We just want to make sure before we take any actions that we have some guidance from people that really know how that industry works and what kind of demand is out there,” Branch said.
The significance of cargo operations at XNA would depend on how much air freight XNA would receive, he said. Potential cargo carriers would include UPS, FedEx and DHL.
In a memo to XNA board members, Branch noted the airport’s proximity and location to large distribution facilities and that staff believes there might be opportunities for cargo operations. The airport sought consultants to complete a cargo study and received proposals from three consultants: Landrum & Brown, Jviation and Hubpoint.
Landrum & Brown was selected after staff scored the proposals based on qualifications; experience, competence and capacity; past performance; and price and proximity. XNA board members agreed to spend $91,320 to hire Landrum & Brown to complete the study, which should be completed in April or May.
Kevin Hoffmann, senior managing consultant for Landrum & Brown, recently discussed cargo operations during a strategic planning meeting for XNA. American Airlines carried about 70% of total cargo transported through XNA in 2018, while United Airlines and Delta carried the remaining 30%. Between 2000 and 2018, cargo volumes have fallen 54.2% to 43 tons, from 94 tons. Most freight bound for Northwest Arkansas is hauled on a truck, Branch said.