Denver Considers Seventh Runway

Madhu Unnikrishnan

February 1st, 2021


Denver International Airport, the fifth-busiest in the U.S., is preparing for an even busier future. Airport officials are recommending planning work begin on a seventh runway that could potentially open before the end of the decade.

The airport plans to seek proposals for “program management, design and environmental review” for the runway this month, according to The Denver Post. That would be the first steps in what is expected to be a seven-year approvals, design and construction process with a target of opening date of 2028.

Denver is already in the midst of a multi-billion-dollar expansion. Linear extensions of its three concourses are underway that, when completed in 2022, will add 39 contact gates to the airport. Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, the airport’s two largest carriers, have already signed for the new gates. In addition, work is due to restart on a delayed revamp of the terminal building aimed at improving security.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, traffic numbers in Denver were rising at a rapid clip. The airport handled a record 69 million passengers in 2019, nearly a third more than a decade earlier, Denver airport data shows. And both Southwest and United had big expansion plans for the Mile High City — plans that remain in place as they recover from the depths of the crisis.

Denver opened in 1995, the last entirely new major airport built in the U.S., with the six runways it continues to use today. Four are oriented north-south, and two east-west. Its master plan includes provisions for up to four more north-south runways, and two more east-west ones.

Edward Russell

In Other News

  • The European Parliament and the bloc’s member states are considering moving forward with the Single European Sky (SES) airspace-modernization program. This comes after the European Commission last year issued a series of recommendations on the long-delayed project. SES has moved in fits and starts for much of two decades, but it is hoped the European Parliament will breathe new life into the project. Airlines have long advocated for SES, arguing that the current patchwork of airspace is inefficient.
  • Oakland International Airport said it is the first airport in the country to offer Covid tests in vending machines. The California airport has installed vending machines past security, with tests costing between $130-$150. These are not rapid-responses tests, however. Passengers will have to send a completed test (saliva sample) through FedEx and await the results.
  • The first flights to Bahrain’s new terminal landed last week. The new terminal, built with financial support from the United Arab Emirates’ government, can handle up to 14 million passengers per year and was originally expected to open last year. This is the latest in a building spree among the region’s airports, with new terminals or facilities coming online in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, and Qatar in recent years.

Madhu Unnikrishnan

Madhu Unnikrishnan

February 1st, 2021