MIAMI – With a price tag estimated at nearly US$1.2bn and a possible completion date of late 2028, Denver International Airport (DEN) is looking at adding its 7th runway.
DEN officials have discussed the possibility of building a 7th runway for more than a decade. They are now ready to pull the trigger but it won’t be operational for nearly eight years.
Airport authorities anticipate “significant federal investment” that will cover a good chunk of the runway, taxiways, and other needed work. It will take many years of planning and a federal environmental study, along with approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and city officials, before any work will begin.
Terminal, Gate Renovations
The airport says it will start the bid process for three early contracts by the end of January, worth a combined $28 million to $38 million, for program management, design, and environmental review.
Before the pandemic sent passenger traffic plummeting, DEN recorded years of record growth with the latest projections forecasted that pre-pandemic traffic levels will grow by more than a third by 2030, to 94 million passengers a year.
To help ease the stress underway currently is a terminal renovation and additions of dozens of gates to the concourses at the coast of US$1.5bn and which are to be completed by 2022. DEN is also renovating its Great Hall security checkpoints at the cost of US$170m.
Airport officials have been talking about the need for another runway almost since the sixth one (34L/16R) a 16,000-foot behemoth for international flights that opened in 2003. The 7th has been put off for years when the airport prioritized other expansion projects.
Optimistic about the Future
DEN is a hub for United Airlines (UA) and Southwest (WN) which are also the airport’s largest carriers. UA and WN both just signed a long-term contract in February last year to stay till 2035.
The airport’s CEO in a statement wrote, “While we are in the midst of the downturn that has come with this pandemic, DEN expects to see a rebound and significant growth in the next few years. We have long-term leases with our two largest carriers, and they are both optimistic about their future here in Denver and expanding their operations here.”
Featured image: Denver International Airport