The youngest airport in the United States is now officially a quarter of a century old. On Feb. 28, 1995,  Denver International Airport (DEN) opened to the public. Twenty-five years later, DEN is experiencing record-breaking growth, has out-grown its original facilities and has become an economic powerhouse in the region. 

Click here to the see the official 25th birthday press release. 





DEN replaced Denver’s former Stapleton International Airport, which had exceeded its original design capacity and was plagued by flight delays and an inability to expand. After locating a new site for what would become the newest and most modern airport in the world.

On Feb. 27, 1995, more than 100 aircraft, 13,000 vehicles and 6,000 rental cars were relocated to the new airport in just 12 hours. DEN’s first departure was United Airlines Flight 1062 to Kansas City, and the first arrival was United Airlines Flight 1474 from Colorado Springs. On opening day, DEN accomplished the world’s first triple-simultaneous landing using the most sophisticated aircraft control tower in the country.


Denver International Airport

Stapleton International Airport

Annual economic impact 

$33.5 billion (2020)

$3.1 billion (1984)

Jobs supported (direct and indirect) 

259,000 (2020)

140,000 (1984)

Total annual passengers 

More than 69 million (2019)

33.1 million (1994)

U.S. ranking for passenger traffic 

5th (2019)

8th (1994)

Average Daily Flights 

1,700 (2020)

1,400 (1994)

Number of Airlines 




53 square miles (largest in U.S., second-largest in the world)

7.3 square miles

Number of destinations 

More than 215

Approx. 95

On-airport land available for development 

9,400 acres

0 acres

Master Plan design capacity 

12 runways, 100 million passengers

6 runways, 25 million (no ability to expand)

Runway capabilities 

4,300-foot runway separations with ability to perform triple-simultaneous landings in inclement weather

900- and 1,600-foot runway separations with no ability for simultaneous landings in inclement weather

Airport employees 

About 34,000 (2020)

About 21,000 (1994)

On-airport parking spaces 

More than 40,000

About 5,000

Average domestic airfare 

$300.04 (national average $343.00)

$348.22 (national average $291.86)





In 2019, DEN’s airlines served 215 nonstop destinations, including 26 international destinations. DEN welcomed two new international routes, Cayman Airways with the inauguration of new nonstop service to Grand Cayman and United added nonstop service to Frankfurt. Domestically, DEN inaugurated nonstop service during the year to 15 brand-new destinations, securing its spot as one of the largest domestic networks. DEN’s airline partners added 21 additional nonstop routes to existing domestic destinations, providing DEN passengers with more carrier options. The airport also experienced a spike in mail, freight and cargo operations with nearly 672 million pounds of cargo being transported, a 9.5% increase over 2018. This is the highest annual cargo volume that has passed through the Airport since 2005, which had about 683 million pounds of cargo. 

2019 Top Destinations

1. LAX Los Angeles, CA
2. PHX Phoenix, AZ
3. ORD Chicago-O'Hare, IL
4. LAS Las Vegas, NV
5. SEA Seattle, WA
6. SFO San Francisco, CA
7. ATL Atlanta, GA
8. SLC Salt Lake City, UT
9. MSP Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
10. DFW Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

2020 International Destinations

Asia: Tokyo-Narita, Japan (NRT)

Canada: Calgary (YYC), Edmonton (YEG), Montreal (YUL), Toronto (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR), Winnipeg (YWG)

Caribbean: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (GCM), Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)

Central America: Belize City, Belize (BZE), Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR), Panama City,

Panama (PTY)

Europe: London-Gatwick, United Kingdom (LGW), London-Heathrow, United Kingdom (LHR), Frankfurt, Germany (FRA), Munich, Germany (MUC), Paris, France (CDG), Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF), Romee, Italy (FCO), Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH)

Mexico: Cancun (CUN), Cozumel (CZM), Chihuahua (CUU), Guadalajara (GDL),

Mexico City (MEX), Monterrey (MTY), Puerto Vallarta (PVR), San Jose del Cabo (SJD)

See all of DEN's destinations by clicking here. 



DEN is known for the iconic 21 tents, with two layers and one remarkable horizon. The tents cover DEN's terminal, and can been seen from miles away. 

  • The tents echo the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Native American teepees, billowing thunderheads, and canvas-covered wagons toiling westward over the Great Plains
  • The tents symbolize inspiration and achievement and have become one of the most recognizable architectural landmarks in the State of Colorado
  • The tents are made of white Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric suspended from pylons and tensioned with cables and buckles
  • There are two layers of fabric, the outer layer that you see from the outside and a liner that you see from below when you are inside the terminal. The Teflon material is also used to make superdomes
  • DEN maintains the roof with contractors and DEN staff who are certified as “rope access technicians”
  • Even though critics, and there were many when DEN opened in 1995, have long since questioned their durability in Colorado’s adverse weather conditions, the tents have held up tremendously well during blizzards, hail and wind





Hear what past and present City leaders say about the history and future of DEN