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Denver International Airport Reports 2021 Passenger Traffic


In 2021, DEN served 58.8 million passengers, a 15% decline as compared to 2019

DENVER – Jan. 31, 2022 – Denver International Airport (DEN) today published passenger traffic data through December 2021. For the month of December 2021, passenger traffic declined by 7% as compared to December 2019. For the full year of 2021, DEN served 58,828,552 passengers, an increase of 74% from 2020 and a decrease of 15% as compared to DEN’s all-time high of 69 million passengers in 2019. The full report is available here.

“It’s encouraging to see DEN’s passenger traffic continue to rebound toward pre-pandemic levels,” said DEN CEO Phil Washington. “Our large domestic market and robust hub network combined with Denver’s resilient economy make DEN an attractive opportunity for airlines. I’m especially optimistic about the steady return of international passengers as we look forward to welcoming new visitors and opening more doors to the world in 2022.”

Passenger traffic recovery accelerated through the second half of 2021 which was down 6% from the same period in 2019, an improvement when compared to the first half of 2021 which declined 25% as compared to the first six months of 2019. A combination of strong domestic travel demand and an increase in the share of connecting passengers positioned DEN among the top recovering markets of peer large-hub airports worldwide.

Notable trends include:

  • Origination and destination (O&D) passengers accounted for close to 59% of the airport’s total passengers in 2021, down more than five points from 2019. Connecting passengers increased by more than five points to account for 41% of DEN passengers.
  • Domestic passengers totaled more than 56.9 million, accounting for nearly 97% of total passenger demand, representing a decline of 14% as compared to 2019.
  • International passengers reached 1.9 million for the year, representing just over 3% of total passenger demand, a 40% decline vs. 2019 but more than double the volume served in 2020.
  • Three airlines recorded increases in passenger traffic volume at DEN in 2021 as compared to 2019: ultralow cost carrier (ULCC) Allegiant and two Mexico-based carriers, Aeromexico and Volaris. Travel to Mexico was particularly robust throughout 2021, supported by open borders and strong demand for both leisure and visiting friends & relatives (VFR) travel.
  • In 2021, DEN was the largest operation based on scheduled flights for Frontier, United and Southwest.
  • United remained DEN’s largest airline with 44% market share of total passengers in 2021.
  • Southwest gained nearly five points of market share in 2021 vs. 2019, up to 32% from 27%, and ranked as DEN’s second-largest airline. Total DEN passenger traffic for Southwest was only 1.6% below 2019, the best performance among major carriers.
  • Frontier ranked as DEN’s third-largest airline accounting for 11% of passenger market share.

Worldwide passenger traffic statistics are available through Oct. 2021. For the first 10 months of 2021, DEN ranked as the third-busiest airport in the world behind only Atlanta (ATL) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW). Full-year global statistics are expected to be available in the spring. In terms of cargo volume, DEN totaled over 673 million pounds in 2021, a 2% increase over 2020 and a 0.2% increase over 2019. Cargo carriers increased their share of DEN cargo volume in 2021 while cargo volume on passenger carriers declined.

Looking ahead, the total capacity offered by airlines at DEN for the first half of 2022 is scheduled to be nearly 6% higher than for the first half of 2019. The estimated international capacity growth of 13% over this period will outpace the domestic capacity growth of 5%. In the first half of 2022 DEN is expecting to welcome back service on Air France (Paris), Cayman Airways (Grand Cayman), Edelweiss (Zurich) and WestJet (Calgary) and will inaugurate new service by Canadian ULCC Flair Airlines (Toronto). In addition, United is scheduled to resume service to Edmonton, Toronto, London-Heathrow and Tokyo-Narita and will add new flights to Munich.

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, 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!