The Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport for the first time in its history topped 600,000 annual passengers.
The airport’s 640,537 outbound passengers last year relied on American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, U.S. Airways and Allegiant Air to take them to more than a dozen nonstop destinations.
The airport’s previous best year was 2007 when 598,886 passengers boarded flights from XNA. In 2013, there were 581,487 passengers.
KFSM television reported earlier this week on the airport’s passenger growth.
XNA, which opened in 1998, is one of the region’s best success stories. With Northwest Arkansas as the home of the world’s largest retailer (Walmart) and two other Fortune 500 companies (Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services), nonstop flights are critical to the business success of all three industry leaders.
Additionally, the airport has made it possible for more than 1,400 Walmart suppliers to establish offices in Northwest Arkansas because their employees can travel easily to their companies’ corporate headquarters elsewhere.
All of those companies’ business travel as well as the region’s increasing demand for trips to leasure destinations such as Las Vegas and Orlando led to last year’s 10.15 percent increase in passengers over 2013.
Having 13 nonstop destinations puts XNA ahead of busier airports in some larger metropolitan areas, including Akron, Ohio (12 nonstop destinations), Madison, Wis. (12), Wichita, Kan. (11), Columbia, S.C. (11), and Colorado Springs, Colo. (11). Each of those other airports are in metropolitan areas with 600,000 to 800,000 residents. Northwest Arkansas has just over 500,000 residents.