United Airlines to Start State's First SFO Nonstop from XNA

New nonstop jet service between Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and San Francisco will begin in October, the airport announced today.

The United Airlines nonstop service to the San Francisco market is a top need for Northwest Arkansas travelers bound for San Francisco’s important business market, but the new service also provides an improved gateway to Asia because United offers nonstop flights from San Francisco to Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong.

The first nonstop flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) departs Oct. 25. The first flight back to California will be the following day. United began selling tickets on the new XNA-SFO route on Saturday.

“United is pleased to offer daily, nonstop service between Northwest Arkansas and our hub in San Francisco, the country’s premier Pacific gateway,” said Frank Spillman, United Airlines regional sales director. “Our arrival time is ideal for mid-morning business meetings in San Francisco and conveniently timed for United’s connecting service to (Asia) and beyond.”

SFO is a critical destination for the Northwest Arkansas business community. Bentonville-based Walmart and Sam’s Club have a large e-commerce presence in San Bruno, a community in the San Francisco metropolitan area. Additionally, a significant number of Northwest Arkansas’ 1,450 Walmart suppliers are based in the San Francisco area, including Clorox, Levi Strauss & Co., Del Monte, and Clif Bar and Co.

“It’s going to be important for both our business and our leisure travelers to support this new route,” said Mike Malone, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “Certainly, it’s exciting when an airline announces that it’s starting new flights, but our community must show what a wise business decision the airline made in deciding to start the service. If business and leisure travelers take advantage of this new offering, we’re certain San Francisco will be a solid, long-term destination from XNA.”

The XNA-SFO route puts Northwest Arkansas in a select group of middle America regions with nonstop service to Oakland, San Francisco or San Jose in the Bay Area. XNA is the only Arkansas airport with nonstop service to the Bay Area, and the 11 other middle America regions with Bay Area nonstops include Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Chicago and Milwaukee.

When United’s new service starts in October, San Francisco will become XNA’s 14th nonstop destination. The others are Atlanta, New York, Newark, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Orlando, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Houston, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The airport is served by five air carriers: Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways.

“In the past two months United has increased frequency to both Chicago and Denver,” said Kelly Johnson, XNA’s airport director. “In addition to these added flights, United has also increased aircraft size and convenience to our customers with the introduction of two class cabins and first-class seating.”

The SFO-bound flights will depart Northwest Arkansas at 7:45 a.m., arriving in San Francisco at 9:47 a.m. Flights leaving San Francisco will depart at 1:30 p.m., arriving in Northwest Arkansas at 7:17 p.m. All flight times are local.

"I thank United for providing the people of Northwest Arkansas yet another new destination," said Michael Moss, chairman of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority. "I know from my conversations with people throughout our region, this additional service will be very well received.”