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Chief Executive Officer Kim Day Announces Retirement

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DENVER – May 14, 2021 – Today, Kim Day announced that she will be retiring as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Denver International Airport (DEN) effective July 16, 2021. Day was originally appointed as DEN’s CEO in April 2008 under then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. She was reappointed by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock in 2011 and has guided the airport’s award-winning operation for 13 years – half of DEN’s 26-year history.

“Experiencing breast cancer made me think about reducing stress and retiring last year, but then COVID-19 hit. I felt the responsibility to lead the airport through the pandemic and leave it in a strong and financially healthy place with major capital projects on target to meet their budget and schedule goals,” said Day. “I will miss so much about DEN and its talented and capable people. We have accomplished so much together, but I’m ready to discover the next phase of my life. I’m grateful to Senator Hickenlooper and Mayor Hancock for trusting me to be DEN’s steward these past 13 years.”

During Day’s tenure as CEO, she led the organization through record-breaking growth, the largest capital improvement program in airport history, and successfully managed through two economic downturns, including the Great Recession and the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Kim Day’s impact on Denver International Airport and subsequently on our regional economy, is indelible,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Kim has been the dynamic leader we needed at a pivotal time of growth and opportunity for our city and state. She is the epitome of selfless leadership, grit and perseverance, an exceptional leader who sets the highest standards for herself and her team, and delivers impactful results with precision, and expert attention to detail. Kim’s dedication to our shared vision of creating a world-class airport is a crowning achievement of her professional career and a lasting legacy for my administration.”

Under Day’s leadership, passenger traffic at DEN has grown from 51.2 million to a pre-pandemic high of 69 million annually. Revenue has grown from $842 million to $1.2 billion. DEN’S economic impact on the region has also grown, from $22.3 billion in 2008 to more than $35 billion in 2018.

Day set out to expand DEN’s network of nonstop flights increasing from 170 destinations in 2008 to 214 in 2019. This includes international cities like Tokyo, Paris, Zurich, Reykjavik and Panama. Day also expanded the number of carriers at DEN, brokering the addition of 11 airlines: Icelandair; Volaris; Copa; Norwegian; Boutique Air; Virgin America; Sun Country Airlines; Edelweiss; Cayman Airways; and Air France.

Day led DEN through Frontier’s bankruptcy and restructuring and executed unprecedented long-term lease agreements to secure DEN’s largest airlines, United and Southwest. She oversaw the development of the airport’s new master plan, DEN’s real estate strategic development plan, and more than $3.5 billion in major infrastructure projects such as the Hotel and Transit Center, which provided the end-of-line station for RTD’s A-Line commuter rail service, the airport’s new Westin Hotel and adjoining plaza.

During her tenure, Day oversaw the addition of five gates on Concourse C in 2014 and the $1.5 billion Gate Expansion Program, that includes 39 gates that will all be activated in early 2022. This investment will increase gate capacity by about 30%, allowing airlines to grow and add flights. She also developed the Great Hall project, protected the city’s interests, and ensured it would be on time and on budget for a delivery of Phase 1 this year, and the start of Phase 2 this summer. This renovation will relocate and improve safety and security for passenger screening, update aging systems, improve operational efficiency, and elevate the passenger experience.

By prioritizing travelers and focusing on improving their airport experience, Day grew customer service offerings, including a free meet and greet service for passengers needing a little extra help or direction, the first ever free remote bag-drop off service on 75th Avenue, and pet relief areas on the concourses. She also launched the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) program, with more than 100 canines and one feline helping passengers reduce the stress of travel.

Day also prioritized technology and innovation, and was instrumental in DEN investing in fast, free public WiFi, gate food delivery, an app to help health concerned travelers during COVID, and a remote employee screening facility opening this month.

Day worked to grow DEN’s concessions program, directed the development of DEN’s first kiosk program which provides low-cost entry to airport retail for small, minority and women owned firms, and brought dozens of great local brands (like Elway’s, Root Down, The Tattered Cover and Little Man Ice Cream) to travelers at DEN. She oversaw the development of a DEN concessions master plan continually bringing new concessions and food court experiences to DEN.

Day has been a champion of sustainability at DEN, including certification of the enterprise-wide Environmental Management plan to ISO standards, increasing DEN’s solar panels to 42,000, providing a potential 16.1Gigawatt hours/year. In addition, she oversaw the implementation of an on-airport composting program for concessions, public water bottle filling stations (which eliminated the equivalent of 600,000 plastic bottles in its first year), electric vehicle charging stations, food donation, a glass recycling program, and achieved LEED platinum certification of the Hotel and Transit Center project.

Day forged a strong relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration and worked with them and DEN’s airlines to make the skies over DEN cleaner and safer, through the development and implementation of “NextGEN,” new departure and arrival procedures. The procedures are saving the airlines millions of dollars annually in fuel and in time.

Day has also been a leader in providing opportunities for small, disadvantaged, minority and women owned firms to obtain opportunities at DEN and then to grow and succeed. She stood up mentor protégé programs, work force development opportunities, and opened the DEN Commerce Hub, providing outreach and technical assistance to current and aspiring businesses, subcontractors and prime contractors. She continues to lead DEN’s efforts to promote equity, access, inclusion and diversity.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented by far the biggest financial challenge during Day’s 13 years at the helm of DEN. Passenger traffic plummeted by 96%, resulting in a revenue drop of almost $340 million below the $1.1 billion projected. Under Day’s leadership, DEN quickly developed a conservative base case, cutting internal costs, and renegotiating contracts, beating its 2020 projections. At the same time, she oversaw the development of relief packages for all DEN’s partners, including airlines, concessions, and rental car companies. DEN is now experiencing a stronger rebound in traffic, and in 2020, ended the year down 51% from 2019, about 10% ahead of the U.S. average airport. That rebound continues to close the gap in 2021, with projections this year just 20% behind 2019. By establishing and performing on solid financial metrics, and implementing a conservative approach to borrowing and spending, DEN has seen solid financial returns year over year. DEN’s bonds are the best performing bonds of any large airport in the U.S.

A full list of Day’s accomplishments and awards can be found here.

Mayor Hancock will initiate a search for Day’s replacement immediately. Additional details will be shared in the coming weeks.


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. For more information visit www.FlyDenver.com, check us out on YouTube and Instagram, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for DEN’s monthly newsletter Nonstop News.


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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!