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Message from CEO Phillip A. Washington: My Vision for Denver International Airport


About six weeks ago, I was honored to be nominated by Mayor Michael B. Hancock and confirmed by the Denver City Council as Denver International Airport’s new Chief Executive Officer. After many years of studying transportation agencies around the world, I know DEN has great employees, a visionary mayor and city council and an organization primed to become one of the best airports in the world.

For those who I don’t yet know, let me share a bit about my background. I was born and raised by a single mother in public housing on the South Side of Chicago. I’m the family’s only son. I have five sisters. After graduation, I joined the United States Army and stayed in service for nearly 25 years. I earned the rank of Command Sergeant Major – the highest rank an enlisted soldier can achieve. I retired in 2000 and transitioned into the transportation industry.

I joined Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) and nine years later I became CEO. During my tenure, RTD completed the A Line commuter rail to DEN and the airport’s transit center which sits below the Westin hotel. In 2015 I was recruited to lead Los Angeles County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The massive organization is central to the nation’s largest county – Los Angeles County’s population alone is greater than 41 of the 50 states.

Leading an airport is a challenging assignment. I plan to impact DEN’s management philosophy and style, our corporate culture, our work ethic, and perhaps most importantly, develop and impart a “Vision” for our future to guide us further into this century and beyond.
Allow me to share some principles from a more-extensive vision discussion I had with DEN employees.

  • Foremost in DEN’s vision is an underlying understanding that we are custodians of a vital public facility. We have a responsibility for frugality, practicality and appropriate expenditures.
  • DEN will always focus first on the operational basics to move airplanes and passengers quickly and safely.
  • We will continue to embrace traveler safety and security, and to improve the customer experience.
  • We will finish every project, particularly Great Hall, Gate Expansion, and roadwork, on time and within budget, and be truthful as to why not, if we don’t.
  • We will create and implement an industry-leading asset management program that relies on predictive maintenance costs, extends asset life, and reduces asset breakdown surprises that impact daily service.
  • We will understand, encourage and utilize accelerating technologies leading to DEN emerging as the most-innovative and most sustainable airport in the world.
  • We seek to fulfill the potential of DEN real estate opportunities as it relates to development on DEN property.
  • And we will create in DEN a great place to work in an environment of equity, diversity and inclusion.

To underscore these principles, DEN will adopt a vision statement: To Provide Excellence in Service and Support.

While it may take some time to fully achieve all the elements of our vision, I believe you will see immediate progress towards it. We value our community and will work to honor your support of our airport.


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!