Jan 18, 2024 - News

Northwest Arkansas National Airport's record year

XNA is planning a new lounge. Rendering: Courtesy of Northwest Arkansas National Airport

Northwest Arkansas National Airport recorded its busiest year yet in 2023, with passengers boarding planes nearly 1 million times.

  • Several projects are in the works to accommodate the growing number of visitors.

By the numbers: The airport reported 991,489 enplanements in 2023, up from 836,195 in 2022. XNA's previous record was in 2019, before the pandemic, with 922,533 enplanements.

The big picture: The 25-year-old airport has ramped up destinations and added budget airlines that appeal to leisure travelers in the past few years. It's also buying up nearby land for expansions potentially decades down the road.

State of play: To that end, XNA is a constant work in progress.

  • Airport officials expect Slim Chickens to open during the first quarter of this year, XNA spokesperson Olivia Tyler told Axios. This will add to a list of restaurant offerings that currently includes Smokehouse American Grill, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Auntie Anne's and grab-and-go options at Say Si Bon! Gourmet Market.
  • Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art plans to open its satellite gallery by the end of the year.
  • Terminal modernization efforts like renovating the baggage claim area and adding escalators are projected to finish in March 2025.
  • Construction to replace an air traffic control will begin this year.

What's next: XNA also plans to add a lounge this year that will require a fee to enter, Tyler said.

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