Fort Smith Regional Airport enplanements up more than 38% through September

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 747 views 

The passenger traffic trend continues to improve at the Fort Smith Regional Airport with enplanements through September up more than 38% compared with the same period in 2021. September traffic was up just over 80% compared with September 2021.

Enplanements at the airport in the first nine months of 2022 totals 46,248, up 38.5% compared with the same period in 2021. September enplanements were 5,551, up 80.3% compared with 3,078 in September 2021.

“American’s numbers are back to almost 2019 levels, and that’s very encouraging,” Airport Director Michael Griffin said of American Airlines, which is the only carrier operating out of the airport. “We still have a few months to go, and I know it won’t get back to that (2019 numbers), but I’m hoping we see it continue.”

2019, with emplanements of 95,670, marked four years of consecutive traffic growth at the airport.

U.S. enplanements through July totaled 80.827 million, the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Transportation, up 9% compared with the same period in 2021. Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) enplanements rose by 18.2% to 72,521 in September from 61,364 in the same month last year. For the first nine months of the year, XNA enplanements were 617,253, up 49.2% compared with the same period last year. Compared to the same period in 2019, enplanements are down by 9.5%.

Griffin also said negotiations continue with American Airlines to open a new route to Chicago. American’s flights now are to Dallas-Fort Worth. The airport in August received an $855,000 grant from the Small Community Air Service Development program of the U.S. Department of Transportation to add a new route. The money can be used as a revenue guarantee for a carrier, and for marketing of a new service.

Enplanements were on a growth trend prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time enplanements topped 100,000 was in 2005 with 102,607. The enplanement record is 112,782 set in 1975.

Following are the previous 10 years of enplanement totals.
2021: 47,287
2020: 38,660
2019: 95,670
2018: 90,501
2017: 89,582
2016: 87,488
2015: 86,704
2014: 92,869