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. 

Photo: Denver International Airport

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.

Photo: Denver International Airport

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