Enplanements at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock fell 93.3% in April as it experienced a decline similar to the two other largest commercial airports in Arkansas.
Enplanements, or passengers flying out, decreased to 5,911 in April, from 88,859 in the same month in 2019. Between January and April, enplanements have fallen 38.7% to 202,602, from 330,676 in the same period in 2019.
By comparison, enplanements declined 95.6% to 3,151 at Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) and 94.5% to 399 at Fort Smith Regional Airport in April, from the same month in 2019. Through April, enplanements have decreased by 33.3% to 171,393 and 36.4% to 17,483, respectively.
The Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded $51 million to Arkansas airports that have been impacted by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Of that amount, Clinton National Airport received $25.15 million, Fort Smith Regional Airport received $11.61 million and XNA received $8.21 million.
Nationwide, U.S. airlines have reported passenger volumes declined after rising 5% between January and February, according to trade group Airlines for America. As of mid-May, air travel was down 93% from the same period in 2019. As of May 17, 52% of the U.S. airline fleet, or 3,193 aircraft, was idle.
Passenger volumes took three years to recover following 9/11 and more than seven years after the Great Recession, according to a report from Airlines for America.
“People will be reluctant to travel — or even to book travel — until there is a strong degree of confidence that the health crisis and associated risks are behind us,” the report shows. “The COVID-19 global pandemic constitutes a black swan-like public health crisis that will only be solved once an effective vaccine is developed, but vaccines usually take a year or longer to develop.”