Airport, Bus Provider Break Annual Passenger Records

The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and the regional public transportation system saw record passenger numbers in 2015.

The airport, where four airlines provide service to 14 destinations, saw 647,530 passengers board flights last year. That was about 7,000 more passengers and a 1.1 percent increase over record-setting 2014.

Ozark Regional Transit also experienced a record-setting year, according to General Manager Joel Gardner.

The regional bus service, which provides fixed routes and paratransit services in several Northwest Arkansas cities, saw 332,462 passengers in 2015.  That’s a 3.6 percent increase over 2014.

Six of the Ozark fixed routes — all in Fayetteville or Springdale — are averaging more than 100 passengers a day. The busiest is Route 1, a fixed route that has buses traveling mostly on Martin Luther King Boulevard and School Avenue in Fayetteville. It averaged 167 passengers a day.

The regional airport, meanwhile, has added new service in the past year, and airlines have increased the size of the planes they’re using to better serve the region.

The major 2015 addition was by United Airlines, which started daily nonstop flights to San Francisco in October.

Other improvements are more recent and should result in additional passengers this year.

American Airlines, for example, has added a second daily flight to Los Angeles, and Delta Air Lines will provide service to New York LaGuardia for the first time, beginning in April.