by Max Brantley
The Little Rock National Airport opened its expanded security checkpoint today, a $1.7 million, 3,000-square-foot addition that includes more room for waiting lines, an added ticket checkpoint and an added screening lane, plus a couple of those advanced imaging machines. (What, no Twitpic on the flylit Twitter feed?)
Noted: A canned comment in the glowing news release quoted an airport official about "a major increase in the number of passengers moving through Little Rock National over the years."
Not true — at least unless you go waaaaay back. Here's a handy chart, complete through 2010, that shows the 1.1 million passenger boardings last year were a good 12 percent short of the airport's peak of 1.28 million 12 years ago, in 1999.
Year-to-date boarding numbers through October are down another 2.8 percent against 2010 boardings. If the trend continues, it will be the fourth consecutive year of a decline in boardings since a bump up in 2007.
The airport naturally is hoping for better, with a $67 million improvement plan in the works. But building improvements don't bring travelers.