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15 Years of XNA: Flying Into the Future

HIGHFILL, AR -- Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport was built to expand, and the number of arrivals and departures is still lifting off.
HIGHFILL, AR -- Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport was built to expand, and the number of arrivals and departures is still lifting off.

"It's hard to believe it's been 15 years. When we opened the terminal building it was 78,700 square feet... The terminal building for instance has been expanded five times in 15 years. We now have over 120,000 square feet, we've expanded parking five different times, lots of different things have gone on out here over that 15 year period and it just seems impossible that it's gone so quickly," said Airport Director Kelly Johnson.

The airport is working to reinvent itself one piece at a time. A new addition is the concourse with revamped shops, restaurants, and plenty of ways to calm any nerves before you take to the sky.

"The growth is demand driven and the expansions are demand driven. We don't just build things to build things. We build things because we need things... With the opening of the concourse, that's really opened up some exciting possibilities for us and we're constantly banging on doors."

Competition helps push costs down, so XNA is always looking for ways to lower the fares.

"People sometimes don't understand that the airport doesn't control the prices... A good analogy is the mall. We rent space and facilities and have certain operating rules and regulations, but we don't tell the Gap how much they sell their jeans for."

But aside from new flights, the airport is updating its master plan and looking 5, 10 and 20 years down the runway.

"What do we need, what do the forecasts look like, what do we need to build, how do we need to build it, when do we need to build it and how do we finance it? ... How the area grows, how the economy goes, so will go the airport."


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