What a year it has been for the Great Hall Project as we have celebrated two important milestones in the last six months. First, we broke ground on Phase 2 in July and at the end of October, we celebrated the completion of Phase 1. While we are very proud and excited about these milestones, we can’t stop here! And that is why today, we are announcing our plans for the Great Hall Completion, the last phase of this critical project.
This final phase, which is being presented to Denver City Council for their consideration in January, will complete our vision for the Jeppesen Terminal and prepare us for the 100 million annual passengers we are projected to serve in the next 10 years. Put simply, more passengers mean more flights, more local jobs, increased revenue for the region, and more economic impact for our region.
As you know, we are the fastest recovering airport in the U.S. based on operations and passenger traffic and have held the spot as the 3rd busiest airport in the world for much of the year. As we continue to welcome more passengers, we are experiencing challenges of post-pandemic travel and trying to keep up with the needs of our growing airlines and our passengers. These challenges have made it very apparent that completing the full build-out of the Great Hall Project is even more critical now than ever before.
Not only are we operating over capacity, but our airport is more than 25 years old and has experienced significant wear and tear. Additionally, the existing security checkpoints are open and exposed to Level 6 above and we have an opportunity to address that issue and further enhance security with additional checkpoints and more advanced technology. We recognize there is never a good time for construction, but the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be – for our passengers and for our airlines.
With that said, I’m excited to share with you our proposed plans for the Great Hall Completion, which will come with numerous benefits including:
- Better protection for passengers. A new security checkpoint with enhanced technology on the northeast side of Level 6. With the completion of this second checkpoint, both the checkpoints on Level 5 will be relocated to Level 6. At the same time, this will enable DEN to add more screening lanes, increasing capacity by more than 60%.
- Modern and spacious ticketing areas. New check-in areas will be built on the south end of Level 6 for all remaining airlines, not just United, Southwest and Frontier. These modular spaces will provide greater flexibility for airline expansion and other changing needs in the future.
- Upgraded facility. The project will renovate restrooms, replace flooring, lighting, elevators/escalators, etc. These improvements will save DEN approximately $200 to $250 million in maintenance over 10 years.
- Comfortable spaces to meet and greet travelers. This includes both domestic and international arrivals on Level 5.
- Developing a pipeline of aviation talent. A Center of Excellence and Equity in Aviation will be constructed on Level 4 of the Westin Denver International Airport. This center will provide education and business opportunities to our community, those interested in the aviation industry and entities interested in work at DEN. Creating a network of skilled workforce is good for the airport, good for the aviation industry and good for the communities of Denver.
I recognize that several more years of construction in the terminal is not something anyone wants to hear, but rest assured, we will remain committed to doing everything possible to lessen the impact. The good news is that the most impactful work is behind us with the completion of Phase 1. That took place in the center of the terminal and created the difficult detours. Going forward, construction will be on the north and south ends allowing us to maintain clear pathways and open sections as work gets completed. By early 2024, our new checkpoint on Level 6 on the northwest side will be operational, greatly improving the security screening process. We will continue to improve our signage and provide additional staff in the terminal to help travelers.
If approved by Denver City Council, this $1.3 billion completion phase would begin in 2022 and continue into 2027-28. As a reminder, projects at DEN are not funded with taxpayer dollars, but are paid for by revenue generated at the airport.
We believe moving forward with completing the terminal is the right thing to do. We can’t wait any longer to address the capacity, security and maintenance needs of our airport. The future is now, and the Great Hall Completion project will better equip us to handle more passengers while remaining competitive and attractive to our airline partners. DEN is your airport and I want you to know that we will continue to make you proud as we do what is necessary for its future success.
Phillip A. Washington