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DEN Continues to Refine its Strategies


When Denver International Airport (DEN) introduced its Vision 100 strategy to prepare our facilities, infrastructure, and employees to serve 100 million annual passengers within 10 years, some were skeptical of the airport’s passenger traffic forecasts. It seemed unlikely to them that we’d really reach such historic passenger traffic numbers in such a short span of time.

But now DEN’s summer passenger traffic has left even the most-ardent skeptics stunned. With monthly passenger traffic in both July and August (projected) surpassing seven million passengers, summer 2023 will become DEN’s busiest summer in history. Revised estimates are now predicting DEN will serve between 78 and 79 million annual passengers this year, a vault of about 13% in one year!

It’s time to take a hard look at the future and we are now planning even further ahead by focusing on four imperatives:

  • Customer Service: Though Great Hall construction continues; we will establish a new standard of customer service for DEN and for capital infrastructure and operations integration.
  • Systems Integration: As DEN moves into what will be its most ambitious period since the building of the airport, it is imperative that we begin now examining methods and technologies to meld separate pieces planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance into a single ecosystem, touching on key integration steps and the role of a system integrator.
  • Extraordinary Management Performance: DEN will employ best practices across its entire organization including people development and technology, so that superior effectiveness is the standard.
  • Environmental Leadership in all we do: DEN will be thinking through and implementing best-in-class actions.

Introducing Operation 2045

 We’re realizing our horizon may be different than originally conceived. We need to plan now for life beyond Vision 100, and we’ve begun to discuss a new reality for DEN that we’re calling Operation 2045 (OP45).

 In 1995, 50 million annual passengers traveled through DEN. In 2027, 100-plus million annual passengers are forecasted to travel through DEN. The airport will turn 50 years old in 2045 and with that comes an even greater responsibility to lay a clear path for generations to come. By 2045, DEN will be serving 120 million-plus passengers. We recognize that we must do more to maintain our existing assets while expanding to accommodate growth.

 With OP45, we’re laying the foundation for needed infrastructure expansion work that will prepare DEN to successfully reach its half-century mark. Vision 100 is the first phase, but we are not stopping there. We are working now to understand and plan for the megatrends and innovations that will impact our industry over the next 20 years so that we can formulate the best possible strategies and actions.

DEN is Colorado’s top economic engine. This is something that we don’t take lightly. We are focused on ensuring the economic health of this airport now and in the future as we recognized that our business partners and our customers depend on us.

We will continue to share more about OP45, and the milestones we achieve while preparing DEN for the inevitable future of major growth.


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!