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Message From CEO Phillip A. Washington: DEN Sets All-Time Passenger Traffic Record in 2022


If you’ve traveled through Denver International Airport (DEN) this year, you can attest that we have been busy! The challenges of long lines, crowded hold rooms and full shops and restaurants have been multiplied by reduced space caused by our construction efforts to keep up with our travel demand.

We now have an official tally that proves what our shared experience has shown: passenger traffic results for 2022 reveal that we had the busiest year ever at DEN! Last year, the airport served 69,286,461 million passengers, an increase of 17.8% as compared to 2021 and 0.4% over 2019, our previous record traffic year. Earlier predictions of 70 million annual passengers would surely have been met had it not been for weather-related traffic disruptions during the important holiday season.

For the year-to-date October 2022 period, DEN continues to rank as the third-busiest airport in the world, behind only Atlanta (ATL) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW). Full year global airport statistics are expected to be available this spring.

To balance out the reality of record-setting passengers traveling through DEN, we’ve been working hard to improve our travelers’ experience by opening new, expanded areas on our concourses. Within these spaces, you’ll enjoy new outdoor patios, restrooms, seating, charging stations and nursing rooms. We’ve also have cut the ribbon on new shops and restaurants, including local names, like Mercantile Dining & Provision, and nationally recognized brands like Voodoo Doughnut, to name a few. We have made major progress on the Great Hall Project and have started construction of two new security checkpoints on Level 6 of the terminal as well as the construction of the new triple escalator that will take passengers from post-security on Level 6 to the train to gate on Level 4.

Notably, 2022 was also the busiest year for international passenger traffic at DEN, with volumes reaching more than 3.3 million, 74.7% above 2021 and 4.6% more than 2019. In terms of cargo, 2022 also set a record, with volume totaling nearly 725 million pounds. 2022 marks the first year since 2003, nearly two decades ago, that DEN’s annual cargo volume exceeded 700 million pounds.

DEN’s emergence as the world’s third-busiest airport is due not only to our mid-continental location, but also due to the confidence our airline partners have in our ability to move connecting traffic. 2022 was the busiest year on record at DEN for both United and Southwest. For the year, 58.8% of DEN’s passengers were origination and destination (O&D), meaning they began or ended their trip in Denver. Connecting passengers made up 41.2% of total passengers in 2022, representing the highest percentage of connecting passengers since 2014.

It’s no wonder that we continue to emphasize Vision 100, our strategy to help us prepare DEN for its inevitable growth toward 100 million annual passengers in the future.

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!