Take Me From Tulsa

The number of Arkansas travelers using Tulsa International Airport in March more than doubled the month-to-month average, according to a license plate survey of the TIA parking lots.
TIA officials routinely survey out-of-state license plates and saw a spike in March, said Alexis Higgins, TIA spokeswoman.
The numbers reflected Spring Break travel, she said.
The rise corresponds to nearly a 18 percent drop in the number of people boarding flights at Arkansas’ second-largest airport — Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.
Tulsa Fare Tulsa’s air fares have been so favorable and gasoline prices dropped so much over the fall and winter that many travelers come from Northwest Arkansas, Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri to fly — by-passing the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport and Springfield-Branson National. License plate surveys indicate that as gasoline prices dipped by 50 percent from October through the end of March, business and leisure travelers voted with their tires, seeking better deals in Tulsa rather than paying the hundreds of dollars more to fly out of the other airports.
Figures show an 17.8 percent drop in January and February compared to the same month the previous year for Northwest Arkansas Regional. The airport in Highfill, Ark., is known by its three-letter identifier, XNA, which is used by air carriers and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The figures are another reflection of the troubled national economy, as people cut back on expenses including travel, said Airport Director Kelly Johnson.
“That is one of the first things to be cut is the travel budget,” she said. “We are hopeful to see more movement from business travelers as the economy turns around, or just settles down.”
The airport experienced its 10th straight month of declining numbers in departing passengers, Johnson said.
Johnson believes the addition of discount carrier, Allegiant Air, will boost traffic at XNA. Allegiant begins twice-weekly nonstop flight on May 22nd from XNA to Los Angeles. The Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier will make the LAX flight available on Mondays and Fridays. There will be an introductory one-way fare of $99 that will eventually go up to $119. This is the first low-cost airline to operate a flight out of XNA. In June, the airline plans to add flights to Las Vegas.
Tulsa International Airport is ranked the 39th-most expensive airport in the U.S. by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. XNA is the 25th most expensive. From Tulsa, fliers can can get round-trip tickets to Dallas/Fort Worth for less than $100. American Eagle slashed its Dallas fare out of XNA from around $350 to $150 for advance purchases earlier this year. For less than $200, a traveler can purchase a round-trip ticket to places like Orlando, Santa Ana, Minneapolis, Other destinations out of Tulsa for that price include Reno, Nev., or Midland; Albuquerque or Boise Idaho; Buffalo or Burbank; Chicago Midway, Cleveland, Detroit, El Paso and Harlingen, Texas, according to the TIA Web site. The Dallas and Los Angeles fares compare with Tulsa, which offers advance purchase fares to those destinations for $130 and $238. The LAX service replaced the nonstop service out of XNA that American Eagle that ended on April 7.
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The number of plates from Missouri and Kansas also jumped during the month, according to figures.
The average number of plates from Arkansas is 187 but in march spiked to 413. The average number of Missouri plates is 58 but in March rose to 90 — a 55 percent increase. And, the number of plates from Kansas climbed 54 percent above average — rising from the routine 124 to 192.
Having a discount carrier like Southwest is the first step toward keeping fares low over the long run.



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