The current economic situation is affecting the demand for air travel and consequently, the amount of activity at DIA as well as many other airports. To date, DIA has experienced less of a reduction in scheduled flight activity than many other airports in the US, reflecting the strength of the region and local area.
The FAA is predicting recovery in national air travel in 2010. DIA is anticipated to mirror if not exceed this projected recovery, making it critical that the Airport be positioned to accommodate this future growth. Given that DIA was designed for 50 million annual passengers and experienced over 51 million in 2008, there is little available capacity in the system to absorb continued growth, even if that growth develops at a slower rate than originally predicted.
Because the Master Plan Study relies on activity growth and other factors to trigger the need for improvements or expansions (as opposed to linking improvements to specific calendar timeframes), a drop in the demand for air travel or a reduced growth rate translates into a potential deferral in the timing of specific improvements but does not alter the ultimate need for these improvements.
DIA recognizes that the current economic conditions are affecting many of the Airport’s tenants and stakeholders and has prioritized financial feasibility in decision-making regarding future facilities and projects. However, given the time involved in implementing projects (including planning, design, environmental and agency review, and construction), the Airport is also focused on ensuring that the Airport is prepared to accommodate projected growth in activity when it materializes. This requires long range planning and decision-making to make sure DIA can support the community and the region by having a plan in place to make incremental improvements and expansions as actual demand triggers the need.