Grand opening for 16 new gates held May 5
Airports Council International (ACI) has released preliminary rankings for the busiest airports in 2021. Based on total passenger traffic, Denver International Airport (DEN) ranked as the third- busiest airport in the United States and the world, which represents the facility’s highest ever global ranking. What does this mean for groups? This along with the airport’s Gate Expansion Program that adds 39 gates, DEN is bringing in more flights from around the globe, making Colorado one of the most accessible destinations.
DEN’s fifth-place U.S. ranking was consistent prior to the pandemic, but in 2020 and 2021 DEN surpassed both Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) and Los Angeles (LAX) to rank third. However, DEN’s ranking among the world’s busiest airports has accelerated at a much faster pace in recent years. In 2017 and 2018, DEN ranked as the 19th-busiest airport in the world and moved up to 16th in 2019, eighth in 2020 and third in 2021.
Of the world’s 10 busiest airports in 2021, eight were in the United States and two were in China, and Denver was one of only four airports worldwide to serve more than 50 million passengers in 2021.
World Airport Rankings & Passenger Totals
- Atlanta (ATL), 75,704,760
- Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW), 62,465,756
- DENVER (DEN), 58,828,552
- Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), 54,020,399
- Los Angeles (LAX), 48,007,284
- Charlotte (CLT), 43,302,230
- Orlando (MCO), 40,351,068
- Guangzhou (CAN), 40,259,401
- Chengdu (CTU), 40,117,496
- Las Vegas (LAS), 39,754,366
Airport officials attribute Denver’s top ranking to strong demand for domestic travel during the pandemic and geographic location, which supports connecting passenger traffic flows. In 2021 DEN ranked as the largest airport for Frontier, Southwest, and United flights.
New Gates Open on Concourse C
On May 5, 2022, Mayor Michael B. Hancock joined DEN and Southwest Airlines for a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of 16 additional gates on Concourse C, a project that broke ground in early 2019. The new gates are being leased by Southwest Airlines and will allow the airline to continue growing its operations at DEN.
The expansion covers 530,000 square feet, which is the largest space commissioned by DEN since the Transit Center and The Westin Denver International Airport in 2015. Among the new passenger amenities that are part of the Concourse C expansion are 20 passenger waiting areas with comfortable seating, an outdoor patio, charging stations, restrooms, nursing rooms, and pet relief areas. There also is space for eight new shopping and dining options that will open in 2023.
Much like the expansion on Concourse B-West that opened in November 2020, the C-East gates reflect DEN’s commitment to sustainability and is expected to be LEED Gold Certified. Sustainability features of the latest expansion area are projected to reduce energy use by 30% when compared to conventional design and include a rooftop solar system with the capability to generate nearly 355 kilowatts of electricity. Low flow fixtures, toilets, and urinals alone are projected to reduce water use by about 47%.
Gate Expansion Program
The 16 new gates are part of the Gate Expansion Program that adds 39 gates across all three DEN concourses, increasing gate capacity by 30% and improving the passenger experience by adding new amenities, including three outdoor decks. The C-East expansion is the second of four expansion areas to be completed, with the remaining two areas on Concourses A-West and B-East opening this fall.
“The Gate Expansion Program is just one way we are growing our infrastructure to ensure we are prepared for 100 million passengers in the next eight to 10 years,” says DEN CEO Phil Washington. “These new gates will not only allow one of our largest carriers to expand at DEN but provide our passengers with more options and an improved experience.”