HIGHFILL, Ark. (KFSM) — Northwest Arkansas National Airport is looking into designs to construct a skywalk from its new garage straight to the terminal to help accommodate its ever-increasing number of flyers.
“We’re a national airport now, so of course with that new title we would love a great new fresh look for XNA,” said Alex English, Public Relations and Marketing Specialist.
After being open for 21 years, XNA is hoping to upgrade its look. They proposed a concept for a new skywalk, which would allow flyers the convenience to walk straight to the terminal bypassing the lobby.
“So many people now have their boarding passes on their phones, they're not checking a bag, there’s no reason for them to come to the lobby of this facility,” said Kelly Johnson, XNA COO.
The new corridor will also provide shelter on rainy and cold days.
“It’s cold, there’s rain, there’s no snow yet, but they’re parking in the parking garage and they're trying to get over to the airport and battling some of the weather. That would essentially make that not a problem here anymore,” English said.
There are only design plans for now, with months before any possible approval by the board of directors, but flyers who use XNA often say they are fans of the new plan.
“I frequently fly out of XNA and thankfully a project like that would save a lot of time," said flyer Marshall Hubert. "Going back and forth you get caught up in the traffic of people checking in and everyone moving around, something like that would expedite the process, that would be great.”
The airport has seen a 26% increase over the last 24 months in passengers boarding at XNA.
Johnson says the airport also has plans to build a second concourse to support more planes. She says the increase in passengers coming in and out of XNA, with the current infrastructure, will create a challenge over time.
“It’s been very much accelerated, a lot quicker than we anticipated, and we need to have these projects, particularly the concourse online and ready to go when we’ve got aircraft looking for a place to park,” Johnson said.
With the growth in foot traffic, XNA says convenience for customers will remain a priority.
“The more we can grow to make sure our passengers can get here get on their flight and get to their destination, that’s our goal here at XNA,” English said.
The initial cost estimate for the skywalk’s bridge is $28 million. Johnson says she doesn’t expect any construction to begin this year.