Woes at NW Arkansas

Dec 16 2008 Woes at NW Arkansas BY sgf-admin TAGS Airports


The Irony Gods are at work at the NW Arkansas airport (XNA).


The Benton County Daily Record reports that Wal-Mart  "recently launched a companywide initiative to book associate business flights out of Tulsa International, Fort Smith or other airports if ticket prices at XNA are higher."


XNA was built about ten years ago—largely due to the urging and political influence of Wal-Mart. It's probably fair to say that the airport would not exist if Wal-Mart hadn't pushed for it. Remember that Arkansas Democrat who occupied the White House in the 1990s? NW Arkansas had political horsepower in spades.


The headline on the newspaper's web site alludes to that horsepower: "Forcing the airline's hand? : Wal-Mart considers more flights from Tulsa."


Forcing the airline's hand? How's that? The headline writer overestimates available horsepower.


Airlines don't care what market they sell the seat in. What matters, from the airline's point-of-view, is that the seat is sold. Doesn't make any difference if it's sold at XNA or Tulsa. The economics driving the airline's fare structure is simple: they charge higher fares in smaller markets because there's less competition and a smaller supply of seats. Those rules of airline/airport economics are something that Wal-Mart can't change.

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