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Celebrating 2023 Milestones: A Report to the Community


As we conclude a historic year, I wanted to report on some of Denver International Airport’s (DEN) most-significant accomplishments to our community of patrons, passengers, neighbors and supporters.

You may recall that DEN is working within a two-phased strategic framework. Vision 100 is phase one and is focused on preparing the airport to serve 100 million annual passengers as soon as 2027. Operation 2045 is phase two and is focused on preparing the airport for its 50th Anniversary in 2045 and for an expected 120 million-plus annual passengers. Both phases combined serve as a blueprint to align decision-making and accountability.

This report shares accomplishments organized by the guiding principles and pillars of Vision 100.

Guiding Principle: Sustainability and Resiliency

DEN has a lofty goal of becoming the greenest airport in the world. This year we made tremendous strides toward this goal.

  • We capped the last remaining oil and gas wells on our property.
  • We helped Colorado airports become greener by selling multiple pieces of fleet equipment at the Colorado Aeronautics Auction.
  • We were named one of the top five green fleets in North America by the National Association of Fleet Administrators.
  • We completed construction on the largest closed-loop aircraft deicing fluid recycling facility in North America.

Finally, as if to underscore our efforts, we received the Airports Council International 2023 Environmental Achievement Award for our “Low-Carbon, Cost-Effective, Reliable and Resilient Energy Projects.”

Guiding Principle: Equity, Diversity Inclusivity and Accessibility

Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve tried to advance opportunities for all – especially those from historically underserved communities. DEN is no exception. We continue to educate, restructure and insist on greater equity, diversity, inclusivity and accessibility for employees, business partners, visitors and passengers.

  • Through the DEN New Heights program, we offered employment and work experience to individuals exiting the justice system.
  • We awarded an historic $18.3 million in prime contracts to Small Business Enterprises (SBE) through September.
  • Our Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise business revenue was the highest it’s been in the past six years, reaching more than $200 million.

Guiding Principle: Enhancing the Customer Experience

Central to everything we do is the reality that we are a customer-service-centered business. With that reality in mind, we continue to enhance the customer experience at DEN, from the moment they enter our property, until their airplane takes off.

  • We coordinated a series of community outreach events to garner feedback on the future of the Peña Boulevard corridor.
  • We welcomed four new Airport Customer Experience Specialists.
  • We introduced the DEN Reserve program to help passengers save time at airport security.
  • We hosted six free summer concerts through the JetSet JAMZ concert series.
  • We launched DEN Travel Assist to help travelers navigate DEN efficiently and with ease.
  • We launched a new site to enhance the user experience with easy-to-find content that meets ADA WCAG 2.1 compliance.
  • We welcomed several new businesses to the concourses, including Sugarphoria, ColoradoLimited and Fly Fly Baby. Additionally, three major concessionaries opened at DEN:
    • Half Moon Empanadas, a woman-owned small business, started serving artisanal empanadas in June on Concourse B.
    • The House of LR&C, owned by Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Ciara, opened its storefront in July on Concourse C.
    • Plaza Premium Lounge in partnership with Capital One officially opened its doors to passengers in November on Concourse A.

Pillar: Empowering our People

With a properly trained and motivated staff, DEN can manage any challenge that lay ahead. It’s also vital to develop tomorrow’s workforce by reaching out to individuals in neighboring communities – especially historically underserved neighborhoods.

To help us accomplish this pillar, we are developing the Center of Equity in Excellence in Aviation (CEEA). CEEA held a groundbreaking ceremony on Dec. 13 to begin construction of its home within 66,000 square feet of space on Level 4 of the Hotel and Transit Center. CEEA will be easily accessible to the RTD A-Line commuter rail to downtown Denver and a number of local and regional bus routes.

Among CEEA’s facilities will be The Hall of Equity which will accommodate 300 people for training and educational purposes. Adjacent lecture halls and training rooms will accommodate another 200-300 people. Construction will take approximately two years to complete.

While construction is underway, DEN has already begun the CEEA programming, offering a wide variety of training and development opportunities. CEEA programming consists of the following:

  • Business Development Training Academy: A program that provides small businesses a systematic approach to entering DEN in the areas of construction, professional services, goods and services, and concessions. Nearly 60 businesses have already completed and graduated from the program.
  • Career Pathways: A program that creates a pipeline of aviation talent through a progressive training model that will attract and retain current and future workforce. There are many opportunities for students to get involved including DEN Academy, internships, tours and much more. In addition, there are training and development opportunities for our current workforce aimed at building future leaders for the aviation industry. In 2023, We hosted an in-person job fair to fill over 500 open positions across the airport and we set up contracting to provide RTD Eco Passes for concessions employees.
  • Research and Innovation Lab: The lab will allow DEN to partner with local colleges and universities to conduct aviation research, identify best practices and adapt new and existing technology systems to innovate and advance the aviation industry.

Pillar: Growing our Infrastructure

Our continuing construction is certainly the most outwardly obvious Vision 100 activity at DEN. Under the direction of our capable staff, and in partnership with dedicated contractors and subcontractors, we are making significant progress on preparing the airport for future passenger traffic.

  • We opened the EE Taxiway project with the help of U.S Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
  • We announced the site of the future consolidated rental car facility.
  • We received the Engineering News-Record Mountain States Best Project Award for the Concourses B East & C East expansion projects.
  • We executed two commercial land leases totaling over 100 acres with Swire Coca-Cola, Inc. and Aaravya Investments, LLC. These new developments mark the first of many commercial developments that will occur on DEN land in the coming years.

Pillar: Maintaining What we Have

We must take care of what we’ve been entrusted with, and we’re improving our operations to do just that. The Airport Maintenance Division is the largest and most-diverse workforce at DEN that consists of nearly 500 dedicated employees responsible for the maintenance and management of the airport’s 150 facilities spread across 18 million square feet, 53 square miles of paved surfaces and a fleet of 1,650 vehicle and equipment assets. Along with embracing the realities of daily maintenance, we highlight three major accomplishments in 2023.

  • DEN completed its annual facility and operations inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and certification inspectors found no discrepancies with DEN’s compliance under 14 CFR Part 139 regulations. This is the third year in a row and the sixth time in seven years that DEN has passed the annual certification inspection with zero findings.
  • We deconstructed the old toll plaza on Peña Boulevard salvaging and recycling building materials as we went.
  • We were recognized as one of the “100 Best Public Fleets” by the Fleet Management Association.

Pillar: Expanding our Global Connections

An airport must continue to grow travel and business opportunities because we take seriously our role as Colorado’s largest economic engine. Air service development is an ongoing emphasis that paid big dividends this year.

  • With the Mayor’s Office, we led a delegation of business and community leaders to Ethiopia and Egypt for discussions with airlines about potential flights between Denver and Africa.
  • In July, we set a record of nearly 7.3 million passengers moving through DEN. August passengers also exceeded 7 million.
  • We announced new nonstop flights between DEN and Dublin on Aer Lingus beginning May 17, 2024.
  • On Oct. 29, United inaugurated new nonstop service between DEN and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • In September, we announced new nonstop service on Viva Aerobus between DEN and Monterrey, Mexico beginning January 25, 2024.
  • We resumed nonstop flights to Tokyo/Narita and celebrated the 10th anniversary of the service.
  • We celebrated the 25th anniversary of British Airways’ Denver-London service.

Clearly, even this extensive list of excellent accomplishments is not close to being comprehensive, but it serves as a strong example of our dedication to caring for and improving your airport. Thanks for your continued support.


Phillip A. Washington


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Denver International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $36 billion for the region annually. Follow us on socials!