Thinking big to develop a growing region

Thinking big to develop a growing region


Denver International Airport poised for global expansion

More than 69 million passengers travel through Denver International Airport (DEN) each year. DEN is currently forecast to rank as the third-busiest airport in the nation and in the top ten busiest in the world.

Opened in 1995, DEN is the only major airport built in the United States in the past 27 years. The $4.2 billion facility encompasses 53 square miles, making DEN twice the size of Manhattan Island.

The COVID-19 pandemic generated unparalleled disruption and impacts on the global aviation industry in 2020. The Metro Denver region’s market strength and competitive advantage as a central point for connecting passengers has helped the Aviation cluster weather the pandemic. Despite an anticipated three-year recovery for many of the region’s aviation companies, airports, and organizations, several positive developments were noted in 2020.

  • Throughout the summer of 2020, DEN often ranked the No. 1 airport in the U.S. for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) throughput, and for the period of June-December, DEN ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 U.S. airport in TSA throughput for 22 of 31 weeks, supporting strong domestic passenger demand since international travel was minimal through most of 2020.
  • Of the 20 busiest U.S. airports, DEN was the top airport for year-over-year seat capacity retention for each of the last five months of 2020 compared with 2019 levels.
  • Air cargo operations at DEN remained strong through 2020, with the amount of cargo totaling 661.1 million pounds, down only 1.6% over the same period in 2019.


Passenger growth spurs expansion

DEN's $544 million Hotel and Transit Center includes a commuter rail station connecting the airport with downtown Denver. The University of Colorado A Line commuter rail from Denver Union Station to Denver International Airport began service in 2016. The Westin Denver International Airport Hotel and Conference Center and its adjoining open-air plaza, opened in late 2015.

In the fall of 2017, DEN received approval for a $3.5 billion, five-year capital plan that includes growth to accommodate the added passenger traffic, and the traffic projected over the next decade or so. DEN is modifying the Great Hall and the sixth floor passenger drop-off curb, adding 39 gates by telescoping out each of the concourses, adding a train set to the train that connects the terminal and the concourses, reconfiguring and widening parts of Peña Boulevard and studying a seventh runway. 

Travelers from around the world have voted Denver International Airport (DEN) as the No. 2 U.S. airport in North America, according to the prestigious 2019 Skytrax World Airport Awards. 

DEN was named the No. 6 best airport in the world serving 25-35 million passengers, making it the highest-rated U.S. airport in that category. 

DEN received several other distinctions, including:

  • No. 2 Best Airport Staff in North America
  • No. 5 Best Regional Airport in North America
  • No. 10 World's Best Regional Airport

Reliever airports serve corporate business travelers

Colorado’s commercial and general aviation airports not only form a cohesive system for commerce and air travel needs, but generate nearly $37 billion annual impact according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Three strategically located airports serve as Metro Denver’s reliever airports:

Related Files 2 Reports
Air Cargo Stats
Quality of Life
Quality of Life_Air Quality in Major Cities.pdf