As we know, Denver International Airport (DEN) is the economic engine for the region, generating $33 billion a year for the region and creating thousands of jobs. But the benefits of the airport extend well beyond these two economic benefits. In fact, DEN’s competitive advantages such as our ability to grow incrementally while keeping costs low for airlines has resulted in more flights, more passengers and more connectivity, all which lead to more business, educational and cultural opportunities for our community.
Although DEN experienced a slight set back as a result of the pandemic, passenger traffic is expected to fully recover in 2022 putting the airport on pace to reach 100 million annual passengers between 2030 and 2035. As a result of this inevitable growth, I have developed Vision 100, a comprehensive and thoughtful plan to ensure the airport is ready and able to effectively serve 100 million annual passengers when that time comes. Vision 100 consists of four pillars and four guiding principles that will direct the work we do at DEN to ensure we are preparing for the future.
Each pillar and principle are just as important as another and all are necessary for DEN to successfully reach 100 million annual passengers. Here is an overview of the pillars and the guiding principles:
- Powering our people: This first pillar is all about the people who work at DEN and community members who want to be part of DEN today or in the future. To ensure we have a strong and skilled workforce, we must provide opportunities for current employees to develop and grow so we can retain our talent and knowledge. We also need to prepare future employees by providing training and internship opportunities. Ultimately, we want Denver to become THE place that businesses and governments around the world look to recruit and hire aviation talent. We will also create more opportunities for minority, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses to do business at DEN and grow to potentially become prime contractors or full concession owners. By taking care of our people, we can ensure DEN is the most equipped airport now and in the future.
- Growing our infrastructure: We must continue to invest and grow our facility by completing projects such as the Great Hall and the next phase of Gate Expansion, adding more gates than the 39 we are currenting building. We also need to continue with improvements to Peña Boulevard and exploring options for a 7th and even an 8th runway. We need to continue adding capacity to our baggage system and upgrading technology and need to explore options to provide redundancy for the train to and from the terminal and concourses. As we kick off the development of our next Capital Improvement Plan, we need to ensure we can build a facility that can accommodate 100 million annual passengers, a 30% increase above our current passenger volume.
- Maintaining what we have: Just as important is taking care of what we currently have. The airport is 26 years old and is experiencing a great deal of wear and tear due to our increasing passenger volumes. Projects such as Concourse Renewal which will upgrade our restrooms, wayfinding, hold rooms and flooring will make a tremendous improvement. We will also continue to replace aging escalators and moving sidewalks, replace and even add train cars and ensure our asset management system is efficient and effective. Added to this pillar is working hard to improve cleanliness, wayfinding – particularly important during our ongoing construction of the Great Hall – check-ins, WiFi access, parking, concession options, and seating comfort.
- Expanding global connections: A major competitive advantage DEN has is our vast amount of land and the fact that we are centrally located in the United States with easy access to the east and west coast. This will allow us to expand our air service network and grow our cargo operations. Our DEN Real Estate program will be essential for this pillar as we activate approximately 16,000 acres for development. By doing so, we will generate additional revenue, keeping cost competitive for airlines, which will lead to more flights, more passengers and more business opportunities.
Along with these four pillars, are four guiding principles, which will be incorporated into the execution of each pillar and are just as critical to our success.
- Sustainability: Our goal is to become the greenest airport in the world.
- Equity, diversity, inclusion & accessibility: We are better when everyone has a seat at the table and when we respect and listen to all viewpoints.
- Customer experience: This is our core business, and we have to exceed the needs and desires of travelers.
- Our stakeholders: DEN is bigger than just us. We are the economic engine of this state and so many individuals, businesses and entities depend on our success including our airline partners, concessionaires, neighbors, businesses, local and federal agencies, elected official, travel and tourism partners, our employees and travelers. We must all work together to be successful!
As we embark on Vision 100, we want you to be part of it by working at DEN, participating in our student education opportunities and internships, becoming a part of the concessions team, learning how to become a business partner, working on our construction projects and, of course, traveling through DEN.
No matter how you choose to be part of Vision 100, we look forward to the journey as we create a diverse airport of the future that serves our passengers, provides a thriving environment for our airlines and business partners and creates educational, culture and career opportunities for our community.
The opportunities are endless and together we can create a stronger more diverse community where everyone can thrive!
We look forward to embarking on this journey with you!
Phillip A. Washington