Denver International Airport
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Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport Logo.png
Denver International Airport Main Terminal early morning.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity & County of Denver Department of Aviation
OperatorCity & County of Denver Department of Aviation
Front Range Urban Corridor
LocationNortheast Denver, Colorado, U.S.
OpenedFebruary 28, 1995; 25 years ago (1995-02-28)
Hub for
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL5,434 ft / 1,656 m
Coordinates39°51?42?N 104°40?23?W / 39.86167°N 104.67306°W / 39.86167; -104.67306Coordinates: 39°51?42?N 104°40?23?W / 39.86167°N 104.67306°W / 39.86167; -104.67306
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
DEN is located in the United States
DEN is located in Colorado
Direction Length Surface
ft m
7/25 12,000 3,658 Concrete
8/26 12,000 3,658 Concrete
16L/34R 12,000 3,658 Concrete
16R/34L 16,000 4,877 Concrete
17L/35R 12,000 3,658 Concrete
17R/35L 12,000 3,658 Concrete
Statistics (2019)
Aircraft operations640,098
Total cargo (lbs.)671,975,659
Economic impact (2018)
Source: Denver International Airport[2]

Denver International Airport (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN, FAA LID: DEN), locally known as DIA, is an international airport in the Western United States, primarily serving metropolitan Denver, Colorado, as well as the greater Front Range Urban Corridor. At 33,531 acres (52.4 sq mi; 135.7 km2),[3] it is the largest airport in North America by land area and the second largest in the world, behind King Fahd International Airport.[4] Runway 16R/34L, with a length of 16,000 feet (3.03 mi; 4.88 km), is the longest public use runway in North America and the seventh longest in the world.

Opened in 1995, DEN currently has non-stop service to 215 destinations amongst 23 different airlines throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia; it is the fourth airport in the U.S. to exceed 200 destinations.[5] The airport is a hub for both United Airlines and Frontier Airlines and is also a base for Southwest Airlines. As of 2019, DEN is the 16th busiest airport in the world -- the fifth busiest in the U.S. With over 35,000 employees, the airport is the largest employer in Colorado. The airport is located on the western edge of the Great Plains and within sight of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.


The Air Traffic Control Tower at Denver International Airport with a United Airlines Boeing 737-800 below.
The Air Traffic Control Tower and Concourse C at Denver International Airport with a United Airlines Boeing 737-800 below

Denver has traditionally been home to one of the busier airports in the United States because of its location. Many airlines, including United Airlines, Western Airlines, former Frontier Airlines, Continental Airlines and People Express were hubbed at the former Stapleton International Airport. At times, Stapleton was a hub for three or four airlines. Reasons that justified the construction of the new DEN were that space was severely limited at Stapleton, and its runways were unable to deal efficiently with Denver's weather and wind patterns, causing nationwide travel disruption.

From 1980 to 1983, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) investigated six areas for a new metro area airport that were north and east of Denver. In September 1989, under the leadership of Denver Mayor Federico Peña, federal officials authorized the outlay of the first $60 million (equivalent to $124 million today) for the construction of DEE. Two years later, Mayor Wellington Webb inherited the megaproject, scheduled to open on October 29, 1993.[6]

Delays caused by poor planning and repeated design changes due to changing requirements from United Airlines caused Mayor Webb to push opening day back, first to December 1993, then to March 1994. By September 1993, delays due to a millwright strike and other events meant opening day was pushed back again, to May 15, 1994. In April 1994, the city invited reporters to observe the first test of the new automated baggage system. Reporters were treated to scenes of clothing and other personal effects scattered beneath the system's tracks, while the actuators that moved luggage from belt to belt would often toss the luggage right off the system instead. The mayor cancelled the planned May 15 opening. The baggage system continued to be a maintenance hassle and was finally terminated in September 2005,[7] with traditional baggage handlers manually handling cargo and passenger luggage.

On September 25, 1994, the airport hosted a fly-in that drew several hundred general aviation aircraft, providing pilots with a unique opportunity to operate in and out of the new airport, and to wander around on foot looking at the ground-side facilities--including the baggage system, which was still under testing. FAA controllers also took advantage of the event to test procedures, and to check for holes in radio coverage as planes taxied around and among the buildings. DEN finally replaced Stapleton on February 28, 1995, 16 months behind schedule and at a cost of $4.8 billion (equivalent to $8.1 billion today),[8] nearly $2 billion over budget ($3.4 billion today).[9] The construction employed 11,000 workers.[10]United Airlines Flight 1062 to Kansas City International Airport was the first to depart DIA and United Flight 1474 from Colorado Springs Airport was the first to arrive at the new airport.[9]

After the airport's runways were completed but before it opened, the airport used the codes (IATA: DVX, ICAO: KDVX). DIA later took over (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN) as its codes from Stapleton when the latter airport closed.

During the blizzard of March 17-19, 2003, the weight of heavy snow tore a hole in the terminal's white fabric roof. Over two feet of snow on the paved areas closed the airport (and its main access road, Peña Boulevard) for almost two days. Several thousand people were stranded at DEN.[11][12]

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 taxis north with the airport's Westin Hotel, Jeppesen Terminal and the skybridge to Concourse A behind.
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 taxis north at Denver International Airport.

In 2004, DEN was ranked first in major airports for on-time arrivals according to the FAA. Another blizzard on December 20 and 21, 2006, dumped over 20 inches (51 cm) of snow in about 24 hours. The airport was closed for more than 45 hours, stranding thousands.[13] Following that blizzard, the airport invested heavily in new snow-removal equipment that has led to a dramatic reduction in runway occupancy times to clear snow, down from an average of 45 minutes in 2006 to just 15 minutes in 2014. As part of the original design of the airport, the city specified passenger volume "triggers" that would lead to a redevelopment of the master plan and possible new construction to make sure the airport is able to meet Denver's needs.[14] The city hit its first-phase capacity threshold in 2008, and DIA is currently revising the master plan. As part of the master plan update, the airport announced selection of Parsons Corporation to design a new hotel, rail station and two bridges leading into the main terminal. The airport has the ability to add up to six additional runways, bringing the total number of runways to 12. Once fully built out, DIA should be able to handle 110 million passengers per year, up from 32 million at its opening.

On September 9, 2015, a political campaign was launched by Mayor Michael Hancock to radically expand commercial development at DIA, development previously prohibited by intergovernmental agreement between Denver and Adams County.[15] The changes to the agreement were approved by both Denver and Adams County voters in November 2015.[16] On November 19, 2015, the first part of a Hotel and Transit Center, the hotel, opened adjacent to the Jeppesen Terminal. On April 22, 2016, commuter rail service to the Hotel and Transit Center from Denver Union Station began.


In 2018, work began on a major interior renovation and reconfiguration including the beginning phases of construction to relocate two out of the three TSA security checkpoints from the Great Hall on Level 5 to Level 6 (East & West) while simultaneously updating and consolidating airline ticket counters/check-in for all airlines. Eventually, both pre and post security gathering and leisure areas will be incorporated into the spaces where both expansive TSA security areas on Level 5 are currently located. The third TSA security checkpoint currently accessible via the Concourse A bridge is expected to be removed. The renovation and reconfiguration will bring back the original intent and use of the Great Hall as a large commons area for airport patrons and visitors to enjoy. This phased terminal project is expected to be completed by 2025.[17]

Additionally, work is underway on expanding all three concourses, with 12 new gates being added to A (including several gates with direct access to U.S. Customs and Border Protection), 11 to B and 16 to C for a total of 39 gates.[18] Following the completion of this project, United Airlines will lease 24 additional gates on both A and B (bringing its total gate count at DEN to around 90), as well as build a new United Club in A and expand their existing clubs in B.[19]Southwest Airlines will lease 16 of the new gates on C bringing its total gate count at DEN to 40.[20] When both the ongoing terminal and concourse projects are completed, the airport will be able to handle upwards of 90 million passengers per year.[21]


The airport is 25 miles (40 km) driving distance from Downtown Denver,[22] which is 19 miles (31 km) farther away than Stapleton International Airport, the airport DIA replaced.[9] The distant location was chosen to avoid aircraft noise affecting developed areas, to accommodate a generous runway layout that would not be compromised by blizzards, and to allow for future expansion.

The 52.4 square miles (136 km2; 33,500 acres)[3] of land occupied by the airport is more than one and a half times the size of Manhattan (33.6 square miles or 87 square kilometres). DIA occupies the largest amount of commercial airport land area in the United States and in North America, by a great extent.[3]Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is a distant second at 27.0 square miles (70 km2). The land was transferred from Adams County to Denver after a 1989 vote,[23] increasing the city's size by 50 percent and bifurcating the western portion of the neighboring county. As a result, the Adams County cities of Aurora, Brighton, and Commerce City are actually closer to the airport than much of Denver. All freeway traffic accessing the airport from central Denver leaves the city and passes through Aurora for just shy of two miles (3.2 km), making the airport a practical exclave. Similarly, the A Line rail service connecting the airport with downtown Denver has two intervening stations in Aurora.


The pedestrian bridge connecting the Jeppesen Terminal with Concourse A
Overhead view of the Concourse C train station

Jeppesen Terminal

Jeppesen Terminal, named after aviation safety pioneer Elrey Borge Jeppesen, is the land side of the airport. Road traffic accesses the airport directly off of Peña Boulevard, which in turn is fed by Interstate 70 and E-470. Two covered and uncovered parking areas are directly attached to the terminal - four garages and an economy parking lot on the east side, and four garages and an economy lot on the west side.

The main terminal has six official floors, connected by elevators and escalators. Floors 1-3 comprise the lowest levels of the parking garages as well as the economy lots on both sides of the terminal. Floor 4 contains passenger pickup, as well as short-term and long-term parking. Floor 5 is used for parking as well as drop offs and pickups for taxis and shuttles to rental car lots and off-site parking. The fifth floor also contains the baggage carousels and security checkpoints. Floor 6 is used for passenger drop off and check-in counters. Passengers are routed first to airline ticket counters or kiosks on the sixth floor for checking in.

DIA has three midfield concourses, spaced far apart. Concourse A is accessible via a pedestrian bridge directly from the terminal building, as well as via the underground train system that services all three concourses. For access to Concourses B and C, passengers must utilize the train. Once in 1998 and again once in 2012, the train system encountered technical problems and shut down for several hours, creating tremendous back-logs of passengers in the main terminal since no pedestrian walkways exist between the terminal and the B and C Concourses. On both occasions, buses had to be used because of the train problems.[24]

Concourse A has 51 gates, which includes several "ground load positions" requiring passengers to exit the main concourse through shared doors to access their aircraft.[25] Concourse A handles all domestic airlines except Alaska, Southwest, and Spirit as well as all international arrivals (excluding airports with border preclearance). There are currently twelve dedicated gates for international arrivals; five of those are equipped to handle widebody aircraft and two are 3-jetway gates capable of handling an Airbus A380. Two airline lounges are currently located on the top floor of the central section of Concourse A: an American Admirals Club and a Delta Sky Club.[26]

Concourse B has 70 gates.[25]United Airlines is the sole occupant of Concourse B. Mainline United flights operate from the main concourse building, whereas United Express operations are primarily handled at the east end of the concourse, which currently includes two concourse extensions for smaller regional planes. Four gates near the center of the concourse are equipped to handle widebody aircraft and each have twin jet bridges labeled A and B. There are two United Clubs on the second floor of Concourse B, situated about an equal distance away from the people mover station: one near gate B32 and the other near gate B44.

Concourse C has 29 gates. Southwest Airlines is the primary occupant of the concourse with only three other airlines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines and Spirit Airlines, utilizing the concourse. A 2014 expansion added five new gates to the west end of the concourse. The expansion, at a cost of $46 million, allowed Southwest to consolidate all of its operations into Concourse C (prior to the expansion, Southwest was using two gates on Concourse A, which it had inherited from its merger with AirTran Airways).[27]American Express recently began construction on a 14,650-square-foot (1,361 m2) Centurion Lounge in the upper level of the eastern wing of Concourse C. The lounge is expected to open in mid-2020, and will be the second largest of its kind.

Hotel and Transit Center

The DIA Hotel and Transit Center is made up of three integrated functional areas: hotel, public ground transportation, and public plaza. Construction of the $544 million project began on October 5, 2011,[28][29] and was completed April 2016. The project directly connects a hotel and transit center to the Jeppesen terminal and includes a commuter rail train station, run by Regional Transportation District (RTD), and a 519-room hotel and conference center, run by Westin Hotels & Resorts. The hotel opened November 19, 2015,[30] and the commuter rail service began on April 22, 2016. Gensler and Anderson Mason Dale Architects were the project architects. The project builder was MHS, a tri-venture composed of Mortenson Construction, Hunt Construction, and Saunders Construction.[31] The rail station is located underneath the hotel with a weather-protection canopy extending 150 foot (46 m) south from the hotel and over the tracks. The rail service provides a direct connection between downtown Denver Union Station and the airport. There is also room for additional future rail lines. Ten bus bays are located under the hotel and adjacent to the transit center/rail lines providing connections for RTD regional buses to Aurora, Boulder, and Westminster as well as shuttle bus service for economy lots and airport employees.[32] The plaza is operated by Denver Arts and Venues, the City and County of Denver agency that operates Denver-owned entertainment venues.

Ground transportation

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates three bus routes under the frequent airport express bus service called skyRide, as well as one Express bus route and one Limited bus route, between DIA and various locations throughout the Denver-Aurora and Boulder metropolitan areas. RTD also operates the University of Colorado A Line, a commuter rail line that runs between the airport and Denver Union Station in downtown Denver.

Scheduled bus service is also available to points such as Fort Collins, and van services stretch into Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado summer and ski resort areas. Amtrak offers a Fly-Rail plan for ticketing with United Airlines for trips into scenic areas in the Western U.S. via a Denver stopover.

The Regional Transportation District's airport rail link is an electric commuter rail line that runs from Denver Union Station to the DIA Hotel and Transit Center. The A Line, sometimes called the East Rail Line, and under a sponsorship agreement called "University of Colorado A Line", connects passengers between downtown Denver and Denver International Airport in about 37 minutes. The line connects to RTD's rail service that runs throughout the metro area. The A Line is a 22.8-mile commuter rail transit corridor connecting these two important areas while serving adjacent employment centers, neighborhoods and development areas in Denver and Aurora. The A Line was constructed and funded as part of the Eagle P3 public-private partnership and opened for service on April 22, 2016.

Airlines and destinations


Aeroméxico Mexico City [33]
Air Canada Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson [34]
Air Canada Express Vancouver [34]
Alaska Airlines Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma [35]
Allegiant Air Cincinnati
Seasonal: Asheville, Knoxville, Provo (begins November 19, 2020)[36]
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix-Sky Harbor [38]
American Eagle Los Angeles [38]
Boutique Air Alamosa (CO) (ends March 31, 2021),[39]Chadron, Cortez, McCook [40]
British Airways London-Heathrow [41]
Cayman Airways Seasonal: Grand Cayman [42]
Copa Airlines Panama City [43]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma [44]
Alliance, Clovis (NM), Telluride (CO) [45]
Edelweiss Air Seasonal: Zurich [46]
Frontier Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Billings, Buffalo, Calgary, Cancún, Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus-Glenn, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, El Paso, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harlingen, Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Louisville, Madison, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County, Orlando, Pensacola, Philadelphia, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa, Tucson, Washington-Dulles, Washington-National, Wichita
Seasonal: Albany, Baltimore, Bismarck, Bloomington/Normal, Boise, Boston, Bozeman, Branson, Burlington (VT), Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Detroit, Fargo, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fresno, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Harrisburg, Hartford, Huntsville, Jackson (MS), Jackson Hole, Jacksonville (FL), Lafayette (LA), Knoxville, Missoula, Myrtle Beach, New York-LaGuardia, Palm Springs, Portland (ME), Puerto Vallarta, Santa Barbara, Savannah, Sioux Falls, Spokane, Syracuse, Tulsa
Icelandair Reykjavík-Keflavík [48]
JetBlue Boston, New York-JFK [49]
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich [50]
Seasonal: London-Gatwick, Paris-Charles de Gaulle [51]
Southwest Airlines Albany, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham (AL), Boise, Boston, Buffalo, Burbank, Cancún, Charlotte (begins December 17, 2020),[52]Chicago-Midway, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus-Glenn, Dallas-Love, Des Moines, Detroit, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Houston-Hobby, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock (begins November 4, 2020),[53]Long Beach, Los Angeles, Louisville, Lubbock, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Palm Springs (begins November 15, 2020),[54]Philadelphia, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane, Tampa, Tucson, Tulsa, Washington-Dulles, Wichita
Seasonal: Charleston (SC), Fort Myers, Hayden/Steamboat Springs (begins December 19, 2020),[55]Montrose (begins December 19, 2020),[54]Norfolk, Panama City (FL), Pensacola
Spirit Airlines Austin, Baltimore, Chicago-O'Hare, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston-Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Orlando
Seasonal: Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul [58]
United Airlines Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Boise, Boston, Bozeman, Burbank, Calgary, Cancún, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Chicago-O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbus-Glenn, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Detroit, Eugene, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston-Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Lihue, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madison, Medford, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Missoula, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, New York-LaGuardia, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Raleigh/Durham, Reno/Tahoe, Richmond, Sacramento, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, Santa Barbara, Seattle/Tacoma, Sioux Falls, Spokane, Tampa, Tokyo-Narita, Toronto-Pearson, Tulsa, Vancouver, Washington-Dulles, Washington-National, Wichita
Seasonal: Belize City (begins December 17, 2020),[59]Burlington (VT), Charlotte, Cozumel, Fairbanks, Jackson Hole, Kalispell, Liberia (CR), Miami, Nassau, Palm Springs, Portland (ME), San José de Costa Rica (begins December 17, 2020),[59]Sarasota, Tucson
United Express Alamosa (begins April 1, 2021),[61]Albuquerque, Amarillo, Appleton, Aspen, Atlanta, Austin, Bakersfield, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bismarck, Boise, Bozeman, Burbank, Calgary, Casper, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Cheyenne (resumes November 11, 2020),[62]Cody, Colorado Springs, Columbia (MO), Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Dodge City, Durango (CO), Eagle/Vail, Edmonton, El Paso, Eugene, Eureka, Everett, Fargo, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Flagstaff, Fresno, Gillette, Grand Junction, Grand Rapids, Great Falls, Greenville/Spartanburg, Gunnison/Crested Butte, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Hays, Helena, Hobbs, Huntsville, Idaho Falls, Indianapolis, Jackson Hole, Jamestown (ND), Kalispell, Kansas City, Kearney, Knoxville, Laramie, Liberal, Lincoln, Little Rock, Louisville, Lubbock, Madison, Medford, Memphis, Midland/Odessa, Minot, Missoula, Moab, Monterey, Moline/Quad Cities, Montrose, Nashville, New Orleans, North Platte, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Palm Springs, Pierre, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Prescott, Pueblo, Rapid City, Redmond/Bend, Reno/Tahoe, Rochester (MN), Richmond, Riverton, Rock Springs, Sacramento, St. George (UT), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Salina, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose (CA), San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Fe, Santa Maria (CA) (begins March 4, 2021),[63]Santa Rosa, Savannah, Scottsbluff, Sheridan (WY), Shreveport, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Spokane, Springfield/Branson, Syracuse, Toronto-Pearson, Tri-Cities (WA), Tucson, Tulsa, Vernal, Watertown (SD), Wichita, Williston (ND), Winnipeg
Seasonal: Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Mammoth Lakes, Norfolk, North Bend/Coos Bay, Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Sun Valley, Traverse City
Volaris Chihuahua, Guadalajara, Mexico City [64]
WestJet Calgary [65]



Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from DEN (August 2019 - July 2020)[66]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Los Angeles, California 795,000 American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
2 Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Arizona 769,000 American, Frontier, Southwest, United
3 Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois 708,000 American, Frontier, Spirit, United
4 Las Vegas, Nevada 679,000 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
5 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 636,000 Alaska, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United
6 San Francisco, California 628,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
7 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 625,000 American, Frontier, Spirit, United
8 Atlanta, Georgia 590,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
9 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 588,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, Sun Country, United
10 Houston-Intercontinental, Texas 543,000 Frontier, Spirit, United
Busiest international routes to and from DEN (Jan. 2018 - Dec. 2018)[67]
Rank Airport 2018 Passengers Carriers
1 Cancún, Mexico 424,635 Frontier, Southwest, United
2 London-Heathrow, United Kingdom 275,554 British Airways, United
3 Calgary, Canada 251,585 Frontier, United, WestJet
4 Frankfurt, Germany 244,111 Lufthansa, United
5 Toronto-Pearson, Canada 244,059 Air Canada, United
6 Vancouver, Canada 241,300 Air Canada, United
7 Munich, Germany 163,900 Lufthansa
8 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 163,755 Frontier, Southwest, United
9 San José del Cabo, Mexico 162,670 Frontier, Southwest, United
10 Tokyo-Narita, Japan 137,092 United

Annual traffic

Annual passenger traffic at DEN, 1995-present[68][69]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
1995 31,067,498 (a) 2005 43,387,369 2015 54,014,502
1996 32,296,174 2006 47,326,506 2016 58,266,515
1997 34,969,837 2007 49,863,352 2017 61,379,396
1998 36,831,400 2008 51,245,334 2018 64,494,613
1999 38,034,017 2009 50,167,485 2019 69,015,703
2000 38,751,687 2010 51,985,038
2001 36,092,806 2011 52,849,132
2002 35,652,084 2012 53,156,278
2003 37,505,267 2013 52,556,359
2004 42,275,913 2014 53,472,514

(a) Passenger totals for first two months of 1995 reflect operations at Stapleton International Airport.

Airline market share

Largest commercial airlines at DEN (January 2019 - December 2019)[70]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 United Airlines 30,847,471 44.7%
2 Southwest Airlines 18,887,314 27.5%
3 Frontier Airlines 8,358,355 12.1%
4 Delta Air Lines 3,685,394 5.3%
5 American Airlines 3,270,458 4.7%
6 Other 3,966,711 5.7%



The Teflon-coated fiberglass roof of Denver International Airport resembles the Rocky Mountains.

The Jeppesen Terminal's internationally recognized peaked roof, designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects, resembles snow-capped mountains and evokes the early history of Colorado when Native American teepees were located across the Great Plains. The catenary steel cable system, similar to the Brooklyn Bridge design, supports the fabric roof. DIA is also known for a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal to Concourse A that allows travelers to walk from the main Terminal to Concourse A, while viewing planes taxiing beneath them. It offers views of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the high plains to the east.


A statue of Jack Swigert in Concourse B

Both during construction and after opening, DIA has set aside a portion of its construction and operation budgets for art. The corridor from the main terminal and Concourse A frequently displays temporary art exhibits. A number of public art works are present in the underground train that links the main terminal with concourses, including art pieces from the history of Colorado.

The airport features a bronze statue of Denver native Jack Swigert in Concourse B. Swigert flew on Apollo 13 as Command Module Pilot, and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, but died of cancer before he was sworn in. The statue is dressed in an A7L pressure suit, and is posed holding a gold-plated helmet. It is a duplicate of a statue placed at the United States Capitol in 1997.[71]

In March 2019 the airport unveiled an animated, talking gargoyle in the middle of one of the concourses. The gargoyle interacts with passengers and jokes about the supposed conspiracies connected to the airport.[72]

Other DIA art commissions have been awarded to artists Leo Tanguma, Gary Sweeney,[73] and Gary Yazzie.[74]

In 2013 the DIA was honored by USA Today for having one of the ten best airports for public art in the United States.[75]

Blue Mustang

Blue Mustang, by El Paso-born artist Luis Jiménez, was one of the earliest public art commissions for Denver International Airport in 1993. The 32-foot-tall (9.8 m) Blue Mustang is a bright blue cast-fiberglass sculpture with glowing red eyes located between the inbound and outbound lanes of Peña Boulevard.[76] Jiménez was killed in 2006 at age 65 while creating the sculpture when the head fell on him and severed an artery in his leg. At the time of his death, Jiménez had completed painting the head of the mustang. Blue Mustang was completed by others, and unveiled at the airport on February 11, 2008.[77] The statue has been the subject of considerable controversy, and has acquired the nickname Blucifer for its demonic appearance.[78][79] The sculpture has been defended and disparaged by many people; one incident involved the vandalizing of the sculpture's hooves with orange paint.

Denver Airport murals

The Denver International Airport has four murals, all of which have been the topic of conspiracy theorists and debate. The murals are ambiguous in meaning, depicting scenes including caged animals, fires, suffering people, and a soldier with a blade and a gas mask. They have been interpreted in the past by onlookers to represent war, hope, and even the New World Order.

Solar energy system

Denver International Airport currently has four solar photovoltaic arrays on airport property, with a total capacity of 10 megawatts or 16 million kilowatt-hours of solar electricity annually.[80]

Partial view of the solar farm under construction, leaving the airport, July 1, 2008
Solar I

In mid-2008, Denver International Airport inaugurated a $13 million (equivalent to $15.4 million today) solar farm situated on 7.5 acres (330,000 sq ft; 30,000 m2) directly south of Jeppesen Terminal between Peña Boulevard's inbound and outbound lanes. The solar farm consists of more than 9,200 solar panels that follow the sun to maximize efficient energy production and generate more than 3.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Owned and run by a specialist independent energy company, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, its annual output amounts to around 50% of the electricity required to operate the train system that runs between the airport's terminal and gate areas.[81] By using this solar-generated power, DEN will reduce its carbon emissions by as much as five million pounds each year.

Solar II

In December 2009, a $7 million ($8.3 million today), 1.6-megawatt solar project on approximately nine acres (390,000 sq ft; 36,000 m2) north of the airport's airfield went into operation. The array is a project that involves MP2 Capital and Oak Leaf Energy Partners generating over 2.7 million kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually and provides approximately 100% of the airport's fuel farm's electricity consumption.[80]

Solar III

A third solar installation situated on 28 acres (1,200,000 sq ft; 110,000 m2), dedicated in July 2011, is a 4.4MW complex, expected to generate 6.9 million kilowatt-hours of energy. Intermountain Electric Inc. built the system, with solar panels provided by Yingli Green Energy. The power array will reportedly reduce CO2 emissions by 5,000 metric tons per year.

Solar IV

The airport added its fourth solar power array in June 2014. The $6 million system can generate up to 2MW, or 3.1 million kilowatt-hours of solar electricity annually. It is located north of the airfield and provides electricity directly to the Denver Fire Department's Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Training Academy.[80]

Denver International Airport's four solar array systems now produce approximately six percent of the airport's total power requirements.[82] The output makes DEN the largest distributed generation photovoltaic energy producer in the state of Colorado,[83] and the second-largest solar array among U.S. airports.

Accidents and incidents

  • On September 5, 2001, a British Airways Boeing 777 caught on fire while it was being refueled at the gate. None of the deplaning passengers or crew were injured, but the refueler servicing the aircraft died from his injuries six days after the fire. The NTSB found that the accident occurred due to a failure of the aircraft's refueling ring when the fuel hose was disconnected at an improper angle.[84]
  • On February 16, 2007, 14 aircraft suffered windshield failures within a three-and-a-half-hour period at the airport. A total of 26 windshields on these aircraft failed. The NTSB opened an investigation, determining that foreign object damage was the cause, possibly the sharp sand used earlier that winter for traction purposes combined with wind gusts of 48 mph (77 km/h).[85]
  • On December 20, 2008, a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 operating as Flight 1404 to Houston-Intercontinental Airport veered off the left side of runway 34R and caught fire during its takeoff roll at DIA. There was no snow or ice on the runway, however there were 31-knot (36 mph; 57 km/h) crosswinds at the time of the accident. On July 13, 2010, the NTSB published that the probable cause of this accident was the captain's cessation of right rudder input, which was needed to maintain directional control of the airplane. Of the 115 people on board, at least 38 sustained injuries, at least two critically.[86][87][88]
  • On April 3, 2012, an ExpressJet Embraer ERJ-145, registration N15973, operating as Flight UA/EV-5912 from Peoria, IL to Denver, was landing on 34R when the aircraft hit the approach lights and stopped on the runway. Smoke developed inside the aircraft and passengers were evacuated onto the runway. One passenger was taken to hospital for treatment of his injuries.[89]


Land dispute

Denver and jurisdictions surrounding the airport are involved in a protracted dispute over how to develop land around the facility. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock wants to add commercial development around the airport, but officials in Adams County believe doing so violates the original agreement that allowed Denver to annex the land on which the airport sits.[90]

See also


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