This time last year, the Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) was in the belly of the beast, experiencing one of it's worst travel seasons to date due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, vaccine rollouts are giving travelers hope of being able to venture away from home for the first time in a year.
The numbers: Compared to the early months of 2020 (January and February), passenger counts were down 62% in 2021 and down almost 38% from 2019 numbers. "We're preferring to benchmark against 2019 numbers because 2020 was such a weird year," Burkes said. "Really strong January and February, then it just went south from there."
Comeback story: XNA went from 329 flights in February 2020 to less than 20 a few weeks later, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data. Things began looking up when the airport was awarded $8.2 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration in mid-April as part of the CARES Act. As part of the comeback, XNA recently announced a partnership with Allegiant Airlines, adding a route to Austin, Texas.
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