Plane travel up at XNA, down in Fort Smith and Little Rock

Editor’s note: This story is a component of The Compass Report. The quarterly Compass Report is managed by The City Wire and presented by Fort Smith-based Benefit Bank. Other supporting sponsors of The Compass Report are Cox Communications and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Enplanements for the first 10 months of 2013 are up almost 3% at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) but are down almost 5% in Little Rock and down more than 2% in Fort Smith.

The three airports are Arkansas’ largest commercial air travel markets.

The Fort Smith Regional Airport, which is served by flights from Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth, posted October enplanements of 7,407, down 3% compared to October 2012.

For the first 10 months of 2013, enplanements at the airport total 71,171, down 2.55% compared to the same period in 2012. However, the decline is an improvement compared to the 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 58.1% of all enplanements for the first 10 months of 2013.

Prior to 2013, Fort Smith had enjoyed traffic growth. Enplanements at the Fort Smith Regional Airport totaled 86,653 during 2012, just ahead of the 86,234 in 2011, and marked three consecutive years of enplanement gains.

XNA ACTIVITY
Travelers flying out of XNA during October totaled 53,923, up 3.6% compared to the 52,044 during October 2012. The airport has more than 10 service connections.

For the first 10 months of the year, XNA enplanements total 489,666, up 2.8% compared to the same period in 2012. The enplanement growth has remained stable through the year, with enplanements up 2.42% 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 42.75% of all enplanements for the first 10months of 2013. Delta is second with 27.13% of enplanements followed by United Airline at 15.21%.

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.

LITTLE ROCK
Enplanements at the Bill & Hillary Clinton Airport (Little Rock National Airport) were 94,200 in October, down 5.26% compared to October 2012.

Enplanements for the first 10 months of 2013 were 917,937, down 4.95% compared to the same period of 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 in 2013 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.

Southwest is the dominant carrier out of Little Rock, with 32% of travelers using the discount airliner during the first 10 months of 2013. Delta had 21.7% of the traffic and American had 20.1% during the 10-month period.

NATIONAL NUMBERS
ARC, the financial settlement link between airlines and travel sellers, reported that the consolidated dollar value of airline tickets ($74.7 billion) sold by U.S.-based travel agencies increased 1.34% in the first 10 months of 2013 compared to the same period of 2013.

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Sales for October 2013 were $7.3 million, a 4.1% increase over October 2012.

As of Oct. 31, ticket transactions for 2013 remained virtually flat at -0.64% with 123.2 million transactions versus 124 million transactions over the same period in 2012.

American Airlines reported 9.188 million enplanements in October, up 4.5%. For the first 10 months of the year more than 91.15 million enplanements were reported, up just 0.9%.

Delta reported 16.258 million systemwide enplanements during October, up 1.4% compared to October 2012. For the first 10 months of 2013 the numbers totaled 165.044 million, up 0.8% compared to the same period of 2012.

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