Fifty-Four Million Passengers Passed Through DIA in 2015

It is official, Denver International Airport celebrated its 20th anniversary with a record setting 54 million passengers in 2015.

To be exact, there were 54,014,502 passengers in 2015 up from 53,472,514 in 2014. This is an increase of 1.0% or 541,988.

The record growth was made possible by solid traffic throughout the year that included a record number of passengers in April and the last four months of the year.

International traffic in 2015 was flat compared to the previous year, 2,292,613 in 2015 vs. 2,208,209 in 2014. A DIA press release indicates that the use of the airport’s custom facility increased by 16%; however, Canadian preclearance flights declined 22%. The Canadian shortfall was attributed to the decreased activity in the oil and gas industry caused by lower prices for a barrel of oil.

DIA Passengers

It was also a good year for cargo. DIA handled 545,784,431 pounds of cargo in 2015 compared to 519,434,240 pounds the prior year. This is an increase of 5.1%.

United continued to be Denver’s airline of choice with 42.3% market share. Southwest was second with 29.8% followed by Frontier with 12.4%.

The airline with animals on the tails of its planes had a disastrous year in 2015. It led the industry in complaints and the number of Frontier passengers in 2015 declined by almost 32% from the prior year.

Airline and Affiliates 2014 Passengers 2015 Passengers % Increase Market Share
American 3,078,481 3,287,333 6.8% 6.09%
Delta 2,364,589 2,675,472 13.1% 4.95%
Frontier 9,840,553 6,697,139 -31.9% 12.40%
Southwest 14,100,970 15,814,696 12.2% 29.80%
United 21,750,604 22,855,819 5.1% 42.31%
Other 2,337,317 2,684,043 24.8% 4.97%

During each of the 20 years that DIA has been in operation, the airport has become more important to the Colorado economy. That will continue to be in case in the years ahead with the addition of the Westin Hotel at the end of the terminal.

In addition there will be a stronger connection to downtown Denver when the light rail project between DIA and Denver is completed. Over the past 20 years businesses have sprung up around DIA. A prime example of that is the Gaylord project that is expected to open in 2-3 years.

DIA has two distinctive competencies over many other airports. First, it is located in the middle of the U.S. Second, it has room to expand when growth becomes necessary.

DIA is poised to be an economic engine for Colorado in 2016 and many years into the future.

Lower Gasoline Prices Have Minimal Impact

Since the second quarter of 2012, the price of gasoline has slowly declined in the U.S. and Colorado.

At this point, the impact in total gasoline prices for the year is primarily psychological even though prices have dropped below $3.00 per gallon in some locations. The difference in total prices paid for 2014 compared to last year are negligible.

The Good News – At some point lower gas prices may increase discretionary income for consumers. At the moment that is not likely because inflation has driven other costs higher, especially housing costs.

The Not So Good News – Typically, the impact of lower oil and gasoline prices on the state is negative. In other words, consumers will benefit; however, state coffers will not be as full because tax collections will be lower.
gasoline prices


DIA Passenger Growth – Another Sign of Improving Economy

Denver International Airport had 52.8 million people pass through its gates in 2011. This represents a 1.7% increase over the 2010 total of 52.0 million passengers. It is also the fourth consecutive year for DIA to see more than 50 million travelers. These totals place DIA as the fifth busiest airport in the U.S. behind Atlanta, O’Hare,Los Angeles, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

While some carriers have decreased capacity, state and local officials continue to bring additional carriers to the area. Icelandair and Spirit will add flights to Denver in 2012.

This good news is another sign that the national and state economies are showing improvement.


©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Relief in the Decline of Gas Prices?

Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said “It’s déjà vu all over again”. This famous quote originated as a result of Berra watching Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hit back-to-back home runs on multiple occasions for the New York Yankees in the early 1960s.

Today Berra’s quote applies to the price of a gallon of  gasoline.

According to the EIA, the price at the pump has recently dropped; however, the average price for a gallon for all formulations on November 28 was $3.38, compared to $2.69 two years prior. The November price is down from a Colorado high of $3.83 in mid-May. Nationally, the price topped $4.00 a gallon for three weeks in May.

While these prices are admittedly high, Coloradans are fortunate. Over the past ten years, the price of gasoline is lower in Colorado than the U.S. average about 70% of the time.

For the period 12/1/2010 to 11/30/2011, the cost for Coloradans to purchase 15 gallons of gasoline a week would have been about $2,661. For the 52 weeks prior, costs would have been $2,101; and they would have been$1,737 for the year prior to that.

For some Americans the extra cost is an annoyance. For the unemployed, those who have gone months without a meaningful pay increase, or those who are living on fixed or limited incomes, the additional $40+ per month (for gasoline) is significant. In addition higher fuel costs are indirectly causing increases in food prices, building materials, and various consumer goods and services.

While the recent decline is welcome. “It’s déjà vu all over again”. The reprieve is only temporary.



©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

U.S. 36 Project Paves Way for Economic Development

The U.S. 36 corridor between Denver and Boulder is on the cusp of significant transportation investments. The $310 million Managed Lanes/Bus Rapid Transit Project begins in the spring of 2012 and will be the largest Colorado Department of Transportation project in the state for the next few years. It is expected to generate 2,400 direct jobs.

The first phase of funding will add multimodal elements to 10 miles of U.S. 36 from Pecos Street to Interlocken Loop, including:
• HOV/HOT lane in each direction;
• Bus rapid-transit service;
• Corridor-wide bikeway: and
• Replacement of Lowell Boulevard, 112th Avenue, and Wadsworth bridges.

The Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise is concurrently defining developer interest to complete the second phase of the project to Table Mesa in Boulder. Potentially, the entire corridor project could be completed by July 2015.

Over the next 24 years, employment is expected to increase by 53% and population will grow by 28%. As anyone who has traveled 36 can testify, improvement of the corridor is essential for better access to commerce in the northwest metro region.

The above information has been provided by 36 Commuting Solutions in a  recent press release.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Increased DIA Passenger Traffic Supports Strength of Tourism Sector

Throughout most of the year, the Leisure and Hospitality Sector has been a leader in job creation.. Today, DIA released passenger traffic data that further supports the importance of the tourism sector in the state’s recovery.

In August 5,037,947 million travelers passed through DIA. This is a record for August and it marks the first time the airport has had back-to-back months with more than 5 million travelers.

Year-to-date data through August shows that about 30.2 million passengers have passed through airport gates in 2011. This represents a 2.8% increase, or 794,347 travelers, over the same period in 2010.

If this level of activity continues, about 53 million passengers will travel through DIA in 2011. This is clearly a sign that people from around the world have increased their travel through Denver for business and personal reasons.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Is Inflation Giving you Gas?

It is not your imagination that the cost to fill your gas tank is rising faster than the increases in your paycheck.

Average retail gasoline prices for all formulations has more than doubled over the past two years (Colorado and U.S).

The annual cost for Coloradans to purchase 15 gallons of gasoline a week would have been about $1,800 for 2009. Last year that same amount of gasoline cost $2,100, a 16% increase. So far this year, prices are running about 21% ahead of last year. With the summer season right around the corner, $4.00 a gallon seems a certainty.

Is $5.00 a gallon on the horizon?

For some Americans the extra cost is an annoyance. For those who have gone months without a meaningful pay increase or those who are living on fixed or limited incomes, the additional $25 – $30 per month (for gasoline) is significant.

In addition higher fuel costs are indirectly causing increases in food prices, building materials, and various consumer goods and services.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Transportation Industry Hit Hard

Previous blog discussions have focused on the relationship between the economy and two important components of Colorado’s transportation infrastructure, DIA  and RTD . The state’s transportation system also includes bridges, roadways, smaller airports, and mass transit systems – all falling under the oversight of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) .

In addition to infrastructure, Colorado has a very vibrant transportation industry, i.e. the companies that transport people and goods. Approximately 58,000 people, or 2.8% of the state’s workforce, are employed at 3,800 companies. They receive $2.6 billion in total wages, or 2.5% of the state’s total. Average annual wages are in the neighborhood of $41,000, slightly less than the overall state average. Some of the major types of companies include:

• 2,100 Truck transport companies
• 670 Transportation support companies
• 340 Couriers
• 250 Warehouse companies
• 200 Ground transport companies
• 140 Air transportation companies

About 60% of the transportation workforce is located in Adams and Denver counties, in close proximity to DIA, Front Range Airport, and the state’s major arteries  (I-25, I-70, Colorado I-76, and Colorado US 85).

Over the past two years about 10,000 jobs have been trimmed from the transportation workforce, a disproportionately high percentage of workers. Time will tell whether or not all of these positions will be recovered and the impact these job losses have on Colorado’s competitiveness.



©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

RTD Makes the Rubber Meet the Road

As an infrequent rider on RTD buses, I recently experienced sticker shock when I boarded a bus from DIA to Boulder and was asked to pay $12 for a one-way ticket. Back in the day, the fares were $4.

My first thought was, “Well, I will show them for raising the fares. Next time I will drive.” So I quickly did the math to confirm my beliefs.

Total round-trip mileage from Boulder to DIA is roughly 90 miles. Assuming $.50 a mile for vehicle operating costs, the expense for me to drive would be about $45, not to mention parking fees and the hassle of dealing with traffic. It was clear that the round trip fee of $24 was the most cost effective way to travel, at least for one person.

After I sat down I noticed signage on the bus that encouraged visitors to go to its website for a free lesson in mass transit economics. When I got home, I visited and learned that fares account for about 30% of total revenues. Approximately 69% is derived from sales tax revenues and one percent comes from on-vehicle advertising and other sources. The economic lesson concluded with a statement that an $18 million deficit is projected for the 2011 budget.

To address this situation, RTD solicited feedback from its customer base over recent months. They asked about possible and preferred solutions that could be considered as part of a fiscal plan to address the projected shortfall. A short list of considerations include wage and hiring freezes, staff furloughs, service reduction and fare increases.

Many of the basic daily services that we take for granted during good economic times are facing challenges at least as severe as those faced by RTD. We can expect to face those challenges for awhile. Stay tuned to see how RTD makes the rubber meet the road.


©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Increased DIA Traffic Bodes Well for Economy

Amidst all of the bad economic news, there is a ray of hope from the transportation sector. Year-to-date passenger traffic at DIA, through July 2010, is stronger than last year. About 30.2 million passengers have passed through airport gates this year, or about 779,710 more than in 2009. This represents a healthy increase of 2.6%. This is a good sign because it means more people from around the world are traveling for business and personal reasons.

Typically, the DIA’s peak load occurs in July. The total number of passengers for July 2010 was 5,060,508. Despite the year-to-date increase, the monthly total for July is slightly off the pace of 5,109,342 for 2009.

The 2010 YTD passenger total is slightly below the same period for 2008. If this level of activity continues, approximately 51 million passengers will travel through DIA in 2010.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.