Last year was Denver International Airport's busiest ever.
While airline stocks have yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, passengers have returned in droves — and millions of them are traveling through central Colorado.
“We will end 2023 well above our expectations of about 78 million passengers annually,” said Phil Washington, CEO of Denver International Airport. “So this has been tremendous growth.”
The airport, known as DIA to Colorado locals, opened in 1995. It was originally built to handle 50 million passengers a year, but that number is now expected to reach more than 100 million people a year by 2027, according to DIA estimates.
OAG, a global travel data provider, said Denver moved from the 21st busiest airport in the world in 2019 to sixth in 2023.
United Airlines is Denver's largest airline with a 46.7% market share, followed by Southwest with 30.7% and Frontier Airlines with 9.7%, according to the DIA.
Central Continent Airport has become United's busiest hub. It recently invested nearly $1 billion in Denver to add more gateways, flights and destinations, and opened the largest lounge in its network.
“About 60 percent of our customers connect from elsewhere. Forty percent of our customers are Denver locals, which is a fast-growing city,” said Jonah McGrath, vice president of Denver airport operations for United Airlines. “We want to grow before 2030 to about 650 flights per day.”
CNBC took a behind-the-scenes look at United's Denver operations and explored how the airport and airline plan to keep up with demand.
Watch the video to learn more.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”