The FAA recommends reexamination of the Master Plan every five to 10 years. Denver International Airport has deferred that reexamination in recent years due to the events of Sept. 11, the possibility of airline bankruptcy and other issues affecting the aviation industry as a whole. DIA’s original Master Plan, which was completed in the late 1980’s at the time when airport construction initially started, projected that the newly built facility could support approximately 50 million passengers per year. In 2007, the airport handled 49.9 million passengers, and in 2008, passenger traffic growth hit the 50-million mark . DIA has consistently experienced strong growth in recent years, even as many U.S. airports saw a leveling or in some cases a reduction in activity.
Additionally, DIA was originally designed to handle a significantly higher number / proportion of connecting passengers than it currently / actually handles.. The proportional increase in originating and terminating passengers has imposed more demand on airport facilities than would have the same increase in the number of connecting passengers, since “local” passengers utilize roadways, parking facilities, airline ticketing and baggage facilities, security checkpoints, and other facilities that connecting passengers do not.
In addition, the past few years have seen many significant changes in the aviation industry including increased security measures and processes, an evolution in airline check-in procedures, baggage screening technology and regulations, evolution of airline fleets, and changes in airline and aviation industry economics. These changes have resulted in different and typically more intensive demands on airport facilities. The FAA recommends that airports review and update their Master Plan every five to 10 years or as necessary in order to ensure future planning accounts for these changes. The Master Plan Study will consider these factors in order to develop an expansion plan for DIA that meets projected demand, both in magnitude and characteristics, while providing flexibility for the Airport to respond to future changes.