XNA Wooing Airlines In Bid to Lower Fares

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Apr. 14, 2014 12:00 am  

For the airport, it’s a juggling game that calls for tact. The federal government allows XNA to offer a limited number of incentives to recruit airlines, but the airport doesn’t want to rub any current air carriers the wrong way.

Van Laningham said those incentives would probably consist of a waiver of the landing fees for the first year or two of any new airline’s operations at XNA. Otherwise, XNA can’t show favoritism toward any carrier at its airport.

Van Laningham said XNA’s status as a heavy business-travel airport actually complicates his ability to attract other airlines. Business travelers are frequent travelers and that means they build up frequent-flier miles.

A business traveler who has built up hundreds of thousands of miles on American Airlines, for example, will be understandably reluctant to start flying another airline and so start from scratch mile-wise — especially when American Airlines’ fares drop because of the competition. Van Laningham said he encourages businesses in northwest Arkansas to stress to their travelers the importance of doing just that if new carriers come to XNA.

“We’ve heard, ‘I’m a platinum on this carrier, and I’m going to stay,’” Van Laningham said.

XNA has prepared for the possibility of adding airlines. Recent expansion has enlarged the terminal and added gates and ticket counters.

Now it’s just a matter of convincing someone to come to northwest Arkansas to use them.

 

 

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