Denver International Airport

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This article is about the current airport open since 1995. For the airport previously serving Denver, Colorado, see Stapleton International Airport.
Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport Logo.svg
DIA Airport Roof.jpg
WMO: 72565
Airport type Public
Owner City & County of Denver Department of Aviation
Operator City & County of Denver Department of Aviation
Serves Denver, Front Range Megalopolis, Northern Colorado, Eastern Colorado
Location Northeastern Denver, Colorado
Hub for
Focus city for Southwest Airlines
Elevation AMSL 5,431 ft / 1,655 m
Coordinates 39°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 Colorado
Location within 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 (2012)
Aircraft operations 635,445
Passengers 52,556,359
Economic impact $26.3 billion[1]
Social impact 146.6 thousand[2]
Source: Denver International Airport[3]
Eastward view from an inbound flight, January 27, 2011

Denver International Airport (IATA: DENICAO: KDENFAA LID: DEN), often referred to as DIA, is an airport in Denver, Colorado. At 34,000 acres (53 sq mi), it is the largest airport in the United States by total area. Runway 16R/34L is the longest public use runway in the United States. As of 2015, DIA was the 15th-busiest airport in the world and the 5th busiest in the United States by passenger traffic with over 53 million passengers. It also has the third largest domestic network.

DIA has non-stop service to destinations throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. The airport is in northeastern Denver and is operated by the City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. DIA was voted Best Airport in North America by readers of Business Traveler Magazine six years in a row (2005–2010)[4] and was named "America's Best Run Airport" by Time Magazine in 2002.[5]

DIA is the main hub for low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines and commuter carrier Great Lakes Airlines. It is also the fourth-largest and Central US hub for United Airlines, and a major focus city for Southwest Airlines. Since commencing service to Denver in January 2006, Southwest has added over 50 destinations, making Denver its fastest-growing market.

DIA is the only airport in the United States to have implemented an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system covering the entire airport.[6]



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, is reflective of snow-capped mountains and evokes the early history of Colorado when Native American teepees were located across the Great Plains.[7] The catenary steel cable system, similar to the Brooklyn Bridge design, supports the fabric roof.[7] DIA is also known for a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal to Concourse A that allows travelers to view planes taxiing beneath them and has views of the Rocky Mountains to the West and the high plains to the East.


Both during construction and after its opening, DIA has set aside a portion of its construction and operation budgets for art. Grotesques hiding in suitcases are present above the exit doors from the baggage claims. The corridor from the main terminal and Concourse A usually contains additional temporary exhibits. Finally a number of different public art works are present in the underground train that links the main terminal with the concourses.

Mustang, by El Paso born artist Luis Jiménez, was one of the earliest public art commissions for Denver International Airport in 1993. Standing at 32 feet (9.8 m) tall and weighing 9,000 pounds (4,100 kg), "Mustang" is a blue cast-fiberglass sculpture with red shining eyes located between the inbound and outbound lanes of Peña Boulevard.[8] Jiménez died in 2006 while creating the sculpture when the head of it 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. The sculpture was completed with the help of the artist's staff, family, and professional race-car painters Camillo Nuñez and Richard LaVato. Upon completion the sculpture was sent to California for assembly and then shipped to Denver. "Mustang" was unveiled at DEN on February 11, 2008.[9]

"Mustang" has gotten mixed reviews. Many critics of the sculpture are attempting to have it removed, but the city plans to leave the installation in place for 5 years before deciding its future. The controversy over the sculpture has received wide media attention, with coverage from the local news outlets to The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and The Daily Show.[10][11]

Other DIA Art Commissions have been awarded to acclaimed artists as Leo Tanguma; Gary Sweeney;[12] Gary Yazzie.[13]

DIA's Art Collection was recently honored by the publishers of USA TODAY, for being of the ten best airports for public art[14] in the United States.

Automated baggage system[edit]

The airport's computerized baggage system, which was supposed to reduce delays, shorten waiting times at luggage carousels, and cut airline labor costs, was an unmitigated failure. The airport opening was originally scheduled for October 31, 1993, with a single system for all three concourses. Issues with the baggage system delayed the opening to February 28, 1995, with separate systems for each concourse and varying degrees of automation.

The system's $186 million original construction costs grew by $1 million per day during months of modifications and repairs. Incoming flights on the airport's B Concourse made very limited use of the system, and only United, DIA's dominant airline, used it for outgoing flights. The 40-year-old company responsible for the design of the automated system, BAE Automated Systems of Carrollton, Texas, at one time responsible for 90% of the baggage systems in the United States, was acquired in 2002 by G&T Conveyor Company, Inc.[15]

The automated baggage system never worked as designed, and in August 2005 it became public knowledge that United would abandon the system, a decision that would save them $1 million per month in maintenance costs.[16]

Solar energy system[edit]

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.

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 solar farm situated on 7.5 acres 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 percent of the electricity required to operate the train system that runs between the airport’s terminal and gate areas.[17] By using this solar-generated power, DEN will reduce its carbon emissions as much as five million pounds each year.

Solar II

In December 2009, a $7 million, 1.6-megawatt solar project on approximately nine acres 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 percent of the airport’s fuel farm’s electricity consumption.

Solar III

A third solar installation situated on 28 acres, 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.

Denver International Airport's four solar array systems now produce approximately six percent of the airport's total power requirements.[18] The output makes DEN the largest distributed generation photovoltaic energy producer in the state of Colorado,[19] and the second-largest solar array among U.S. airports.


DIA has Wi-Fi access throughout the airport. The free service is provided by the airport directly and is no longer ad-supported.[20] Independent testers have found Denver International Airport's Wi-Fi to be among the fastest at any U.S. airport, with average speeds of 4.33 mbps.[21]


Aerial view of the airport in 2002 during construction of runway 16R/34L

The airport is 25 miles (40 km) driving distance from downtown Denver,[22] which is 19 miles (31 km) further away than Stapleton International Airport, the airport it replaced. 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 53 square miles (140 km2)[23] of land occupied by the airport is nearly twice the size of Manhattan. The land was transferred from Adams County to Denver after a 1989 vote,[24] 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, making the airport a practical exclave. Similarly, the future A Line rail service connecting the airport with downtown Denver will have two stations in Aurora.


From 1980 to 1983,[25] the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) investigated six areas for a new metro area airport which were north and east of Denver. In September 1989, under the leadership of Denver Mayor Federico Peña (after whom Peña Boulevard is named), federal officials authorized the outlay of the first $60 million for the construction of DIA. Two years later, Mayor Wellington Webb inherited the megaproject, scheduled to open on October 29, 1993.

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,[26] 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.

DIA finally replaced Stapleton on February 28, 1995, 16 months behind schedule and at a cost of $4.8 billion,[27] nearly $2 billion over budget. The construction employed 11,000 workers.[28] United flight 1062 to Kansas City International Airport was the first to depart and United flight 1474 from Colorado Springs Airport was the first to arrive.[29]

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

During the blizzard of March 17–19, 2003, 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 DIA.

In 2004, DIA was ranked first in major airports for on-time arrivals according to the FAA.

Denver International Airport covered by the December 22, 2006 snowstorm

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. Following that blizzard, the airport invested heavily in new snow-removal equipment which 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.

Design and expandability[edit]

Denver International Airport's signature roofline as seen from the interior.

Denver has traditionally been home to one of the busier airports in the nation because of its location. Many airlines including United Airlines, Western Airlines, the old Frontier Airlines and People Express were hubbed in Denver and there was also a significant Southwest Airlines operation at the old Stapleton International Airport. At times, Denver was a hub for three or four airlines. The main reasons that justified the construction of DIA included the fact that gate space was severely limited at Stapleton, and the Stapleton runways were unable to deal efficiently with Denver's weather and wind patterns, causing nationwide travel disruption. The project began with Perez Architects and was completed by Fentress Bradburn Architects of Denver, Pouw & Associates of Arvada, CO, and Bertram A. Bruton & Associates of Denver.[30][31] The signature DIA profile, suggestive of the snow capped Rocky Mountains, was first hand sketched by Design Director Curtis W. Fentress. Seized upon by then Mayor, Federico Peña, as the iconic form he was looking for – "similar to the Sydney Opera House" – DIA's design as well as its user-optimized curbside-to-airside navigation has won DIA global acclaim and propelled its designer, Fentress, to one of the foremost airport designers in the world. Fentress Architects is currently at work on the modernization of LAX. The concourses were designed by a joint venture of The Richardson Associates and The Allred Fisher Seracuse Lawler Partnership.[32]

With the construction of DIA, Denver was determined to build an airport that could be easily expanded over the next 50 years to eliminate many of the problems that had plagued Stapleton International Airport. This was achieved by designing an easily expandable midfield terminal and concourses, creating one of the most efficient airfields in the world.

At 34,000 acres (140 km2) ,[23] DIA is by far the largest land area commercial airport in the United States. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is a distant second at 78 square kilometres (30 sq mi). The 327-foot (100 m) control tower is one of the tallest in North America.[33] The airfield is arranged in a pinwheel formation around the midfield terminal and concourses. This layout allows independent flow of aircraft to and from each runway without any queuing or overlap with other runways, as well as allowing air traffic patterns to be adjusted to avoid crosswinds, regardless of wind direction. Additional runways can be added as needed, up to a maximum of 12 runways. Denver currently has four north/south runways (35/17 Left and Right; 34/16 Left and Right) and two east/west runways (7/25 and 8/26).

KDEN FAA airport diagram

DIA's sixth runway (16R/34L) is the longest commercial precision-instrument runway in North America with a length of 16,000 feet (4,877 m).[34] Compared to other DIA runways, the extra 4,000-foot (1,200 m) length allows fully loaded jumbo jets such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 to take off in Denver's mile-high altitude during summer months, thereby providing unrestricted global access for any airline using DIA.

The midfield concourses allow passengers to be screened in a central location efficiently and then transported via the underground people mover to three different passenger concourses. Unlike Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport upon which the midfield design was based, Concourses B and C are not connected by any kind of walkway; they are only accessible via train.

The taxiways at Denver have been positioned so that each of the midfield concourses can expand significantly before reaching the taxiways. Concourse B, used by United Airlines, is longer than the other two concourses, but all three concourses can be expanded as needed. Once this expansion is exhausted, space has been reserved for future Concourses D and E.

All international flights requiring customs and immigration services currently fly into Concourse A. Currently eight gates are used for international flights. These north facing gates on Concourse A are equipped to divert incoming passengers to a hallway which connects to the upper level of the air bridge, and enters Customs and Immigration in the north side of the Jeppesen Terminal. These gates could also be easily modified to accommodate the Airbus A380 and other large planes by allowing simultaneous boarding on both the upper deck and the lower deck.

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.[35] 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.

Terminal and concourses[edit]

A terminal map of the Denver Airport

Jeppesen Terminal[edit]

The pedestrian bridge connecting the Jeppesen Terminal with Concourse A

Jeppesen Terminal, named after aviation safety pioneer Elrey 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 – three garages and an economy parking lot on the east side; and four garages and an economy lot on the west side.

The terminal is separated into west and east terminals for passenger drop off and pickup. Linked below is a map of the airlines associated with the terminals.

The central area of the airport houses two security screening areas and exits from the underground train system. The north side of the Jeppesen Terminal contains a third security screening area and a segregated immigration and customs area.

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 pick-ups for taxis and shuttles to rental car lots and off-site parking. The fifth floor also contains the baggage carousels and security checkpoints. The sixth floor is used for passenger dropoff and check-in counters.

Passengers are routed first to airline ticket counters or kiosks on the sixth floor for checking in. Since all gates at Denver are in the outlying concourses, passengers clear security at one of three different checkpoints: one at each end of the main terminal, each of which has its own bank of escalators that lead down to the trains; as well as a smaller one at the end of the pedestrian bridge to Concourse A).

After leaving the main terminal via the train or pedestrian bridge, passengers can access 95 full-service gates on 3 separate concourses (A, B, & C), plus gates for regional flights.

Stone used in the terminal walls was supplied by the Yule Marble Quarry, also used for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lincoln Memorial.[7]

Hotel and Transit Center Program[edit]

A new $544 million program is underway adding a hotel next to the Jeppesen terminal which will house a train station, to be run by Regional Transportation District's (RTD) FasTracks system, a 519-room hotel and conference center, to be run by Westin Hotels & Resorts. The hotel will open in November 2015 and the commuter rail service begins in spring 2016. The commuter rail will connect passengers between downtown Denver and the airport in just 35 minutes. Gensler and AndersonMasonDale Architects are the architects for the project.[36] Construction began on October 5, 2011.[37][38]

Regional Transportation District East Rail Line[edit]

As part of the airport's Hotel and Transit Center project, the Regional Transportation District is installing a heavy commuter rail line that runs from Denver Union Station to DIA. This line is called the "East Rail Line" and will connect passengers between downtown Denver and DIA in about 35 minutes. The rail will connect to RTD's 122-mile rail service which runs throughout the metro area. The East Rail line is a 22.8-mile commuter rail transit corridor that will operate between Union Station and DIA The rail line will connect these two important areas while serving adjacent employment centers, neighborhoods and development areas in Denver and Aurora. The East Rail Line is being constructed as part of the fully funded Eagle P3 Project.[39]


Moving walkways in Concourse C

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. On one occasion in the late 1990s, the train system encountered technical problems and shut down for several hours, creating a tremendous back-log of passengers in the main terminal since no pedestrian walkways exist between the terminal and the B and C Concourses. Since that day the airport's train system has continued to operate without any further major service interruption.

The concourses and main terminal are laid out similarly to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The main difference is that DIA has no satellite unit of T gates directly attached to the terminal, and the space between the concourses at DIA is much wider than the space between the concourses in Atlanta. This allows for maximum operating efficiency as aircraft can push back from their gate while other taxiing aircraft can still taxi through the alley behind them without delay.

The airport collects landing fees, rent and other revenues from the airlines to help offset its operating costs. DIA is owned and operated by the City and County of Denver, but does not operate using tax dollars. Instead, the airport is an "enterprise fund" generating its own revenues in order to cover operating expenses. The airport operates off of revenue generated by the airlines – landing fees, rents and other payments – and revenues generated by non-airline resources – parking, concessions revenues, rent and other payments.

On December 14, 2006, DIA instituted the design phase of expanding Concourse C in the airport's first major expansion of a concourse. In September 2014, the airport completed construction of five new gates on the C Concourse which now serve Southwest Airlines. The new gates are labeled C23 through C27 and expand the space by 39,000 square feet at a cost of $46 million.[40]

Concourse B also expanded with the addition of a regional jet terminal designed by Reddy & Reddy Architects at the east side of Concourse B.[41] This Regional Jet concourse consists of one smaller concourse or finger which is connected to Concourse B.[42] These gates allow direct jet bridge access to smaller Regional Jets. With the opening of the Regional Jet Concourse on April 24, 2007, United Airlines left Concourse A entirely and operates solely from Concourse B, with the exception of international flights requiring customs support.[43]

Concourse A[edit]

Concourse C and Control Tower

Concourse A has 37 Gates: A24–A68. Eight of these gates (A33, A35, A37, A39, A41, A43, A45, and A47) are equipped to handle international arrivals and wide-body aircraft. Concouse A handles all international arrivals at the airport (excluding airports with border preclearance), as well as the departing flights of all international carriers serving Denver. Furthermore, all domestic airlines, except for Delta, Southwest, and United, use this concourse, with Frontier Airlines having the largest presence.

At the time of the airport's opening, Concourse A was to be solely used by Continental Airlines for its Denver hub. However, due to its emergence from bankruptcy, as well as fierce competition from United Airlines, Continental chose to dismantle its hub immediately after the opening, and only operated a handful of gates on A, before eventually moving to Concourse C (Continental later moved to Concourse B prior to its merger with United).[44]

Two lounges are located on the top floor of the central section of Concourse A: the shared American Airlines Admirals Club/British Airways Executive Club Lounge, and a USO lounge.

Concourse B[edit]

The entrance to Concourse B as it looked in 2005. The United tulip in the photo has been taken down following United's merger with Continental in 2011

Concourse B has 77 Gates: B15–B29, B31–B33, B35–B39, and B41–B95. Gates B32, B36, B38, and B42 are equipped with twin jet bridges (with each bridge designated as A or B) to accommodate wide-body aircraft. United Airlines is the sole occupant of Concourse B. Mainline United flights operate from the main concourse building, whereas United Express operations are handled at the east end of the concourse (gates B48–B95), which includes two ground-level satellite extensions.

Former tenants of Concourse B include Continental Airlines and US Airways. Both airlines relocated there in November 2009 after United reached an agreement with DIA to allocate five gates at the western end of the concourse for use by its domestic Star Alliance partners. United would regain control of the three Continental gates after the merger between the two airlines. And as of February 2015, US Airways has relocated the operations of their two gates to Concourse A as part of its merger process with American Airlines.[45]

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[edit]

Overhead view of the Concourse C train station

Concourse C has 28 Gates: C23–C49. Southwest Airlines is the primary occupant of Concourse C, which utilizes all but five of its gates. The remaining gates are used by Delta Air Lines, which is the only other tenant on the concourse. A recent expansion added five new gates (C23–27) to the west end of the Concourse. The expansion, which was completed in SEptember 2014 at a cost of $46 million, allowed Southwest to consolidate all of its operations onto Concourse C (prior to the expansion Southwest was using two gates on Concourse A, which it had inherited from its merger with AirTran Airways).[46]

Concourses D and E[edit]

The airport has reserved room for two more Concourses to be built beyond Concourse C for future expandability. Concourse D can be built without having to move any existing structure. The underground train system, however, will have to be extended. Concourse E will require moving a United Airlines hangar. However, before construction on Concourses D and E begins, Concourses A, B, and C can be extended in both directions. In September 2014, DIA opened five new gates on the C Concourse.[47]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


DIA serves over 170 destinations including 20 international cities in nine countries. DIA is the largest hub of Frontier Airlines and the fourth-largest hub for United Airlines. Southwest Airlines continues to grow rapidly at the airport and the airport is the airline's fourth largest base. The airport is also the main hub of Great Lakes Airlines. The three largest airlines serving DIA are United (including United Express), Southwest Airlines, and Frontier Airlines, controlling about 40%, 25%, and 22% (numbers were rounded) of all passenger traffic at DEN in December 2012, respectively.[48]

Note: All international arrivals except for flights from cities with U.S. customs preclearance are handled at Concourse A, regardless of listed departure terminal.

Airlines Destinations Concourse
Aeroméxico Seasonal: Guadalajara, Mexico City A
Air Canada Toronto–Pearson A
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma A
American Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami A
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Los Angeles A
Branson Air Express
operated by Elite Airways
Branson (MO) (begins April 16, 2015)[49] TBA
British Airways London–Heathrow A
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Cincinnati
Delta Connection Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma (begins June 4, 2015) C
Frontier Airlines Atlanta, Austin, Bozeman, Cancún, Chicago-O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Detroit, Fargo (ends April 29, 2015), Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City (ends April 29, 2015), Omaha, Orange County, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta (ends April 29, 2015), Raleigh/Durham (begins June 11, 2015),[50] St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San José del Cabo (ends April 25, 2015), Seattle/Tacoma, Sioux Falls, Tampa, Washington–National, West Palm Beach (ends April 28, 2015)
Seasonal: Bismarck, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Cozumel, Greensboro, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo (ends April 11, 2015), Knoxville, Liberia (ends June 27, 2015), Missoula, New York–LaGuardia, Punta Cana
Great Lakes Airlines Alamosa, Alliance, Chadron, Cheyenne, Cortez, Dodge City, Farmington, Kearney, Liberal, McCook, North Platte, Page, Pierre, Riverton, Scottsbluff, Sheridan (ends March 31, 2015)[51] A
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík A
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York–JFK A
Lufthansa Frankfurt A
Southwest Airlines Akron/Canton, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Burbank, Cancún, Chicago–Midway, Columbus (OH), Dallas‑Love, Dayton, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Houston–Hobby, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Louisville, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), 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
Seasonal: Albany (NY) (begins June 13, 2015), Fort Myers
Spirit Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (begins April 16, 2015), San Diego
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix
United Airlines Anchorage, Austin, Baltimore, Billings, Boise, Boston, Cancún, Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Des Moines, Edmonton, Grand Rapids, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Las Vegas, Lihue, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Panama City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Vancouver, Washington–Dulles, Washington–National, Wichita
Seasonal: Bozeman, Calgary, Eagle/Vail, Fairbanks, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jackson Hole, Montrose, Nashville (begins July 2, 2015), Palm Springs, Salt Lake City, Tucson
United Express Albuquerque, Amarillo, Aspen, Atlanta, Austin, Bakersfield, Billings, Birmingham (AL), Bismarck, Boise, Bozeman, Burbank, Calgary, Casper, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cody, Colorado Springs, Columbus (OH), Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Des Moines, Detroit, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Durango (CO), Eagle/Vail, Edmonton, El Paso, Eugene, Fargo, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Fresno, Gillette, Grand Junction, Grand Rapids, Great Falls, Gunnison/Crested Butte, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Hays, Helena, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Idaho Falls, Indianapolis, Jackson Hole, Jamestown (ND), Kalispell, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lafayette (LA), Laramie, Lincoln, Little Rock, Louisville, Lubbock, Madison, Medford, Memphis, Midland/Odessa, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minot, Missoula, Moline/Quad Cities, Montrose, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Ontario, Orange County (CA), Palm Springs, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Pueblo, Rapid City, Redmond/Bend, Reno/Tahoe, Rock Springs, St. George (UT), St. Louis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose (CA), Santa Barbara, Santa Fe, Seattle/Tacoma, Shreveport, Sioux Falls, Spokane, Springfield/Branson, Toronto–Pearson, Tri-Cities (WA), Tucson, Tulsa, Vancouver, Wichita, Williston, Winnipeg
Seasonal: Mammoth Lakes, Sun Valley, Traverse City
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix A
Volaris Chihuahua, Guadalajara, Mexico City A


Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Billings, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Memphis
UPS Airlines Billings, Louisville, Ontario, Reno/Tahoe


Top domestic destinations[edit]

Icelandair flies a regular Boeing 757-200 service from Denver to Reykjavík, Iceland.
A British Airways Boeing 777-200ER taxis towards Concourse A
A Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 is pushed back from Concourse A
A United Boeing 787 taxiing between Concourses A and B.
Busiest domestic routes from DEN (Jan 2014 - Dec 2014)[52]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix, Arizona 1,070,000 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United, US Airways
2 Los Angeles, California 930,000 American, Frontier, Southwest, United
3 Las Vegas, Nevada 875,000 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 855,000 American, Frontier, Spirit, United
5 San Francisco, California 849,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
6 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 762,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
7 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 755,000 Alaska, Frontier, Southwest, United
8 Salt Lake City, Utah 741,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United
9 Houston-Intercontinental, Texas 720,000 Frontier, Spirit, United
10 Atlanta, Georgia 702,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United

Top international destinations[edit]

Busiest international routes from Denver (January–June, 2014)[53]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Cancún, Mexico 152,191 Frontier, Southwest, United
2 Calgary, Canada 108,235 United
3 Toronto (Pearson), Canada 103,240 Air Canada, United
4 Frankfurt, Germany 99,276 Lufthansa
5 San José del Cabo, Mexico 89,440 Frontier, Southwest, United
6 Vancouver, Canada 86,819 United
7 London (Heathrow), United Kingdom 79,033 British Airways
8 Tokyo (Narita), Japan 64,281 United
9 Edmonton, Canada 63,735 United
10 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 59,884 Frontier, United

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at Denver Airport, 1996 thru 2014[54]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 51,985,038 2000 38,751,687
2009 50,167,485 1999 38,034,017
2008 51,245,334 1998 36,831,400
2007 49,863,352 1997 34,969,837
2006 47,326,506 1996 32,296,174
2005 43,387,369
2014 53,472,514 2004 42,275,913
2013 52,556,359 2003 37,505,267
2012 53,156,278 2002 35,652,084
2011 52,849,132 2001 36,092,806


The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates five 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.

The skyRide services operate on comfortable motorcoaches with ample space for luggage, while the Express and Limited bus routes operate on regular city transit buses and are mainly geared for use by airport employees.

Route Title Areas served
AA Wagon Road / DIA Westminster, Northglenn, Thornton, Commerce City
AB Boulder / DIA Boulder, Louisville, Superior, Broomfield, Westminster
AF Federal Center / Downtown / DIA Lakewood, Downtown Denver (Market Street Station), Northeast Denver
AS Stapleton / DIA Northeast Denver
AT Arapahoe County / DIA Greenwood Village, Southeast Denver, Central Aurora
169L Buckley / Tower / DIA South and East Aurora, Northeast Denver
145X Brighton / DIA Brighton

skyRide services drop-off and pick-up from only the West side of the Jeppesen Terminal while the Express and Limited services drop-off only on the West side of the Terminal and pick-up only from the East side of the Terminal.

RTD is currently building a commuter rail line from DIA to downtown Denver's Union Station, as part of the FasTracks expansion program. The commuter rail is projected to open in the 2nd quarter of 2016.[55]

Scheduled bus service is also available to points such as Fort Collins, Colorado 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.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

See Stapleton International Airport for accidents and incidents prior to March 1995

  • 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 torn out of it at an improper angle.[56]
  • 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.[citation needed] 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).[57]
  • On December 20, 2008, a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 operating as Flight 1404 to Houston-Intercontinental Airport in Houston, TX, veered off the left side of runway 34R, and caught fire, during its takeoff roll at Denver International Airport. There was no snow or ice on the runway, however there were 31 knot (36 mph) 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 of these injured critically.[58][59][60]
  • On April 3, 2012, an ExpressJet Embraer ERJ-145, registration N15973, operating as Flight UA/EV-5912 from Peoria, IL to Denver, CO, 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.[61]

Conspiracies and controversy[edit]

There are several conspiracy theories relating to the airport's design and construction such as the runways being laid out in a shape similar to a swastika. Murals painted in the baggage claim area have been claimed to contain themes referring to future military oppression and a one-world government. However, the artist, Leo Tanguma, said the murals, titled "In Peace and Harmony With Nature" and "The Children of the World Dream of Peace," depict man-made environmental destruction and genocide along with humanity coming together to heal nature and live in peace.[62]

Conspiracists have also seen unusual markings in the terminals in DIA and have recorded them as templar markings.[63] They have pointed to unusual words cut into the floor as being Satanic, Masonic, or some impenetrable secret code of the New World Order: Cochetopa, Sisnaajini and Dzit Dit Gaii.[64] These words are actually Navajo terms for geographical sites in Colorado. "Braaksma" and "Villarreal" are actually the names of Carolyn Braaksma and Mark Villarreal, artists who worked on the airport's sculptures and paintings.[65]

There is a dedication marker in the airport inscribed with the words "New World Airport Commission". It also is inscribed with the Square and Compasses of the Freemasons, along with a listing of the two Grand Lodges of Freemasonry in Colorado. It is mounted over a time capsule that was sealed during the dedication of the airport, to be opened in 2094. The Freemasons participated in laying this "capstone" (the last, finishing stone) of the airport project.[64]

Robert Blaskiewicz writing for Skeptical Inquirer Magazine states that conspiracies about the airport range from the "absurd to the even more absurd". When asking airport media representatives about which conspiracies are associated with the airport, he was told "You name a conspiracy theory and somehow we seem to be connected to it." Blaskiewicz found that contrary to claims from conspiracy theorists that DIA will not discuss these stories with the public, they also give tours of the airport.[66]

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.[67]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2013 Economic Impact Study for Colorado Airports". Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Denver airport – Economic and social impact". Ecquants. Retrieved September 7, 2013. [dead link]
  3. ^ "DIA Passenger and Aircraft movement Statistics for 2010". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Five Years in a Row". Wingtips (City & County of Denver Department of Aviation) 1 (10). January 2010. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ Zoglin, Richard (July 15, 2002). "Welcome to America's Best Run Airport". Time Magazine. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  6. ^ "2009 Annual Report". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c " International Airport Press Kit". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. 
  8. ^ "Art Program". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Mustang/Mesteño by Luis Jiménez". City of Denver. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ Simon, Stephanie (February 7, 2009). "A Horse of a Different Color Divides Denver". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Web Site Calls for Move of Blue 'Mustang' at DIA". KUSA (Denver). January 28, 2009. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Traveler Information". Denver International Airport. 
  13. ^ "Ronald and Susan Dubin Fellowship". Award. School for Advanced Research. 
  14. ^ "10 Best Airports for Art". USA Today. 
  15. ^ "G&T Conveyor Acquires Assets From BAE Automated Systems Inc." (Press release). G&T Conveyor Company, Inc. June 17, 2002. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Kirk (August 27, 2005). "Denver Airport to Mangle Last Bag". The New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Fly Green: Denver International To Get Big Solar Array". Ecotality Life. October 5, 2007. Archived from the original on February 8, 2008. Retrieved June 5, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Destination Clean Energy: Denver International Airport Dedicates 4.4 MW of Solar Power from Constellation Energy" (Press release). Constellation Energy. July 28, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Earth Day 2012 at Denver International Airport" (Press release). City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. April 16, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Wi-Fi Denver International Airport".  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help);
  21. ^ "Skift: DIGITALThe 12 U.S. Airports With the Fastest Wi-Fi Connections".  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help);
  22. ^ "Distance From Downtown Denver As Per MapQuest". MapQuest. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for DEN (Form 5010 PDF)
  24. ^ Goetz, Andrew R.; Szyliowicz, Joseph S. (1997). "Revisiting Transportation Planning and Decision Making Theory: The Case of Denver International Airport". Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 31 (4): 263–280 (see p. 270). doi:10.1016/S0965-8564(96)00033-X. 
  25. ^ Metro Airport Study: Final Report. Denver Regional Council of Governments; Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. 1983. 
  26. ^ Johnson, Kirk (August 27, 2005). "Denver Airport Saw the Future. It Didn't Work". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Denver International Airport Construction and Operating Costs". University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library. July 5, 1997. Retrieved February 1, 2008. 
  28. ^ Dear, Joseph A., Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (April 11, 1995). Rocky Mountain Health & Safety Conference (Speech). John Q. Hammons Trade Center, Denver, CO. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  29. ^ Ayres, Jr., B. Drummond (March 1, 1995). "Finally, 16 Months Late, Denver Has a New Airport". The New York Times. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  30. ^ Fentress, Curtis (2010). Touchstones of Design: (Re)Defining Public Architecture [Denver International Airport Passenger Terminal Complex]. Mulgrave: The Images Publishing Group Pty. Ltd. ISBN 978-1-864-70382-5. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  31. ^ Moore, Paula (December 28, 2007). "Fentress Architects' DIA Work Opened Global Doors". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved March 26, 2008. 
  32. ^ "Spotlight". The Denver Post. January 27, 1992. p. 7C. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Denver International Airport Research Center: Aviation Facilities". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. Retrieved January 27, 2008. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: Airport Master Plan". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  36. ^ "South Terminal Redevelopment Program – Business Opportunities". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  37. ^ Proctor, Cathy (October 3, 2011). "Signs of Construction at DIA's South Terminal Project". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  38. ^ "DIA Ground Transportation Level Detours Take Effect Saturday" (Press release). City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. May 18, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  39. ^ "RTD: East Rail Line".  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help);
  40. ^ Proctor, Cathy. "Reporter". Retrieved 03/12/2015.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  41. ^ "United Airlines Regional Jet Facility". Reed Construction Data. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  42. ^ "United Airlines – Denver International Airport". United Airlines. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  43. ^ "Mayor Hickenlooper and Other Officials Get Preview of DIA's New Regional Jet Favility" (Press release). City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. April 23, 2007. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^ "DIA opens 5 new gates for Southwest Airlines; will provide Apple iPads". 
  48. ^ "DIA Carriers Stats". City & County of Denver Department of Aviation. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  49. ^ Gounley, Thomas. Branson Airport’s 2015 service begins to take shape, Springfield News-Leader, December 27, 2014, Retrieved 2015-01-02
  50. ^
  51. ^ Sheridan loses its commercial air service from same carrier that serves Riverton Regional, County 10, March 16, 2015, Retrieved 2015-03-16
  52. ^ "Denver, CO: Denver International (DEN)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved 2015-03.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  53. ^ "U.S.-International Passenger Data for Year To Date/Calendar Year 2014". 2014. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  54. ^ Passenger Traffic Reports. Retrieved on Mar 29, 2015.
  55. ^
  56. ^ "NTSB Report DEN01FA157". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  57. ^ "NTSB Report DEN07IA069". National Transportation Safety Board. June 27, 2007. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  58. ^ Simpson, Kevin; Bunch, Joey; Pankratz, Howard (December 21, 2008). "Continental Jet Veers Off Runway on Takeoff, Slams into Ravine, Catches Fire". The Denver Post. p. A1. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  59. ^ "Continental Flight Slides Off Runway; Dozens Injured". KUSA. December 21, 2008. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  60. ^ "NTSB Begins Investigation into Why Plane Slid Off Runway". KUSA. December 21, 2008. Retrieved December 21, 2008. 
  61. ^ Hradecky, Simon (April 3, 2012). "Accident: Expressjet E145 at Denver on Apr 3rd 2012, Smoke in Cockpit, Hard Short Landing". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  62. ^ Jacang Maher, Jared (August 30, 2007). "DIA Conspiracies Take Off". Denver Westword. Retrieved July 11, 2012 
  63. ^ "The Mysterious Masonic Murals of New Denver Airport". The Watcher Files. Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  64. ^ a b "Denver Airport Underground Base and Weird Murals". Anomalies Unlimited. Retrieved September 8, 2011. 
  65. ^ Hodapp, Christopher (2008) [2008]. Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies For Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-470-18408-0. 
  66. ^ Blaskiewicz, Robert (April 11, 2012). "The Denver International Airport Conspiracy". Skeptical Inquirer Magazine. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  67. ^ "Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan blasts Denver's DIA revenue-sharing plan". Denver Post. June 6, 2013. 

External links[edit]