XNA Marks 15 Years, Serves 7.5 Million

Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport is celebrating its anniversary this month after providing service to 7.5 million outbound passengers in its first 15 years.

With nonstop flights to 14 U.S. cities, the airport with an original cost of $107 million has expanded markedly and consistently since its opening in November 1998.

The Northwest Arkansas Airport Authority over the years has approved major expansions to the Alice L. Walton Terminal and other facilities, increased the level of service provided to airlines, businesses and airport passengers, and encouraged airport administrators to pursue daily low-cost carriers.

Best known as “XNA,” the airport is an excellent option for business travelers. It’s primary fliers are people who work for or do business with Northwest Arkansas companies such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Tyson Foods and the more than 1,300 Walmart suppliers with offices in the region.

The airport has daily flights provided by American, Delta, United and U.S. Airways. Allegiant Air provides non-daily service to Las Vegas and Orlando.

Since its opening, the airport has expanded consistently. The ticketing area, baggage claim, rental car spaces, terminal, parking, the tarmac and the runway are all larger than they were in 1998.

One of the largest and most recent upgrades was the $21 million expansion of the terminal, which includes 54,000 more square feet. That area, which opened to passengers and airlines in 2011, includes shops, restaurants and other amenities comparable to those found in much larger airports.

Other facts about XNA:

-       The airport served 7,528,867 passengers from its November 1998 opening through Oct. 31, 2013.

-       The airport is on pace to board about 580,000 outbound passengers. Its record year was 2007 when 598,886 boarded flights.

-       American Airlines has provided the most air service from the airport since its 1998 opening. It carries about 42 percent of all XNA passengers.

-       Statistics kept by the Federal Aviation Administration show XNA was the nation’s 114th busiest airport in 2012. Its planes carried more passengers than those flying from larger metropolitan statistical areas, including Baton Rouge, La.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Columbia, S.C.

-       XNA has 55 employees (44 are full time). Businesses at the airport provide jobs for about 765 other people.