Denver International Airport - DIA

Denver International Airport.

Twenty-five years ago, Denver International Airport opened its runways for the very first time.

The project, kickstarted by then-Mayor Federico Peña, first struck ground in 1989 to replace the former Stapleton International Airport.

Today, the airport serves 69 million passengers, provides nonstop service to more than 200 destinations in 14 countries, and generates $33.5 billion annually.

“Denver International Airport is our gateway to the world – a hub for tourism and business in the region, and the most powerful and dynamic economic engine in the Mile High City and State of Colorado,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “Denver has truly become a global city because of (the airport), and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the people who have supported the airport in the last 25 years, from the early visionaries to the thousands of people who work at the airport every day. We have much to be proud of, and much to look forward to in the coming years.”

The airport has more than doubled the passengers it serves since 1995 and is expected to “far exceed” its original capacity, according to the airport’s Friday release, reaching 80 million passengers in the next five years and 100 million by 2035.

“Over the years, DEN has become a world-class airport and today, under the leadership of Mayor Hancock, we continue to be conscientious stewards of the state’s largest economic engine,” airport CEO Kim Day said in a statement. “We will continue to bring more flights, airlines and destinations and remain focused on responsible growth and expansion for the next 25 years.”

DIA workers to picket concessions contractor
DIA workers to picket concessions contractor
Denver council gives 1-year extension to private prison contract, awards new DIA contract

In recent months, the airport has experienced some turbulence in light of its ugly breakup with a former contractor over the renovation of its Great Hall. So far, the airport has paid out roughly $128 million to contractor Great Hall Partners, including $90 million for its investment in the project. A new contract with Hensel Phelps, which could cost up to $195 million, was approved earlier this month, and work is expected to resume in March.

The renovations are part of a $3.5 billion capital improvement plan that will increase gate capacity by 30% and “improve the passenger experience” by updating restrooms and conveyances across the airport, increasing the number of train cars, providing a variety of shopping and dining options and creating new outdoor spaces on each concourse.

“We are committed to being true to the vision and potential of this asset,” Day said, “and won’t stop believing in the future of DEN and its continued success.”

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