Enplanements at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) were down in August but remain higher for the year, while the opposite was true for the Fort Smith Regional Airport.
The Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport (Little Rock) did not have August figures as of Sept. 23, but airport officials reported that Labor Day traffic was down more than 4% compared to the 2012 holiday period.
The Fort Smith Regional Airport, which is served by flights from Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth, posted August enplanements of 7,229, up 5.57% compared to August 2012.
For the first eight months of 2013, enplanements at the airport total 56,943, down 2.32% compared to the same period in 2012. The trend continues to improve from a 7.4% year-over-year decline at the end of the first quarter.
American Airlines continues to be the largest carrier at Fort Smith with almost 59% of all enplanements for the first eight months of 2013.
Travelers flying out of XNA during August totaled 50,771, down 0.96% compared to the 51,262 during August 2012. The airport has more than 10 service connections.
For the first eight months of the year, XNA enplanements total 388,531, up 3.08% compared to the same period in 2012. Although down in August, enplanement trends remain higher than the 2.42% year-over-year gain at the end of the first quarter of 2013.
Enplanements at XNA totaled 565,045 during 2012, up just 0.4% compared to 2011. Although slight, the gain prevented XNA from posting two-consecutive years of enplanement declines.
American Airlines remains the dominant carrier at XNA with 42.06% of all enplanements for the first eight months of 2013. Delta is second with 27.41% of enplanements floowed by United Airline at 15.29%.
XNA’s first full year of traffic was 1999, and the airport posted eight consecutive years of enplanement gains before seeing a decline in 2008. It reached a peak of 598,886 in 2007.
Enplanements at the Bill & Hillary Clinton Airport (Little Rock National Airport), totaled 549,329 during the the first six months of 2013, down 4.33% compared to the same period of 2012. June 2013 enplanements totaled 114,856, up 4.3% compared to June 2012.
Enplanements in 2012 totaled 1.147 million, up 4.07% compared to 2011. The 2012 numbers also ended five consecutive years of enplanement declines at Arkansas’ largest commercial field.
Airport officials recently announced completion of a $67 million renovation that included that included “a modernized and expanded ticket lobby with curbside check-in now available for passengers traveling on Southwest Airlines.” The work also included a baggage screening system that allows passengers to check luggage at an airline ticket counter.
American Airlines, the busiest carrier at XNA and Fort Smith, reported that its systemwide August passenger traffic was up 1.8% compared to August 2012. The Fort Worth-based airline reported total enplanements for the month of 9.742 million. For the year, total enplanements for American reached 73.556 million, up 0.4%.
Delta, which is also a major carrier at XNA and Fort Smith, reported that August enplanements for its domestic and international routes totaled 19.437 million, up 2.7%. For the first eights months of the year, enplanements totaled 132.711 million, up 0.6%.
Enplanements in Delta’s U.S. regional routes totaled 2.117 million in August, down 3.2% compared to August 2012.
Commercial airports in Arkansas and the U.S. continue to operate in an up and down economic environment. The most recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that real spending on travel and tourism grew at an annual rate of 2.5% in the second quarter compared to a 7.3% gain in the first quarter.
“The leading contributors to the deceleration in the second quarter were ‘passenger air transportation,’ and ‘all other transportation-related commodities,’” noted the Sept. 20 report from the BEA.
The report noted that “passenger air transportation” was up 15.4% in the second quarter after increasing 26.9% in the first quarter.
“Overall growth in prices for travel and tourism goods and services turned down in the second quarter of 2013, decreasing 2.9 percent following a 0.4 percent (revised) increase in the first quarter. The second quarter downturn in prices was concentrated in transportation goods and services, primarily reflecting larger decreases in prices for both ‘passenger air transportation’ and gasoline,” according to the BEA.