Denver International Airport (DIA) has seen record growth in recent years, firmly establishing itself as United Airlines’ fastest growing hub. A $1 billion investment by United, announced this week, will further propel DIA’s expansion.
United Commits to Denver Growth
On January 18, United Airlines announced plans to invest over $1 billion in Denver International Airport over the next two years. This will include:
- A 16-gate expansion of Concourse B
- Improvements to check-in, baggage claim and security screening areas
- New lounges, customer service desks and other passenger amenities
The investment builds on United’s long-term commitment to growing its Denver hub, which has added over 100 daily flights in the past five years.
CEO Scott Kirby called Denver United’s “fastest growing hub in our network” and stated the airline will continue investments “well into the future.” Mayor Michael Hancock said United’s new investment reaffirms Denver’s status as a premier global aviation hub.
Surging Travel Demand
United’s growth in Denver comes amid surging travel demand, both domestically and internationally.
DIA saw a record 70 million passengers in 2023, up 15% from 2021 pre-pandemic levels. International travel grew even faster, with United’s Denver-Tokyo route up 20% and flights to various European cities up 30-40%.
The expansion will boost DIA’s capacity to 84 million passengers per year. United says added gates will accommodate larger aircraft on international routes to meet customer demand.
United’s investment is expected to create over 1,000 new jobs in Denver. The airport as a whole already employs over 30,000 people and contributes $26 billion annually to the state’s economy.
DIA is undertaking its own $3.5 billion capital development program between 2018-2026. Recent projects include:
- New security screening checkpoints using the latest technology
- An on-site solar energy farm to power the airport’s infrastructure
- Renovating Concourse A and expanding baggage handling facilities
This complementary public-private investment will ensure DIA continues outpacing the industry in innovation and growth.
Outlook: Denver’s Continued Ascent
Aviation analysts see United’s commitment cementing Denver’s status as the carrier’s premier hub in the western US. As their dominant position strengthens, Denver can expect to capture an increasing share of US air travel demand.
The expansion gives United additional gates to deploy larger, long-range aircraft for direct international flights to Europe and Asia. Such routes cater to the region’s many corporate HQs and technology firms requiring global access.
With swelling activity, DIA seems poised to enter the ranks of the world’s 5 busiest airports in coming years. Currently 7th globally, it processed more flights than Frankfurt, Paris CDG and Amsterdam Schiphol last year while trailing only Atlanta domestically.
Yet infrastructure constraints give Denver advantages rivals cannot match. As major coastal hubs like LAX and SFO near full capacity, Denver provides readily available room to grow in America’s heartland.
- United Airlines will invest over $1 billion in expanding and improving facilities at Denver International Airport through 2025
- The growth cements Denver’s position as United’s fastest growing hub, building on a 15% rise in passengers last year
- The expansion will create over 1,000 new jobs and support Denver’s emergence as a global aviation hub
- With swelling capacity, Denver could enter the ranks of the world’s 5 busiest airports in coming years
With United’s commitment and travel demand projected to keep booming, all signs point to Denver’s ascent as America’s premier inland freight and passenger connection to the world.
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