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.

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.

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.

10 Years After 9/11 – Tourism Initially Hit Hard

Over the next six weeks this blog will look back 10 years at the change in the national and state economies. In particular, it will take a simplistic look at the possible impact that 9/11 may have had on Colorado’s Lost Decade.

There are analyses that suggest Osama bin Laden inflicted extended damage on the U.S. economy. These calculations show the direct and indirect costs of fighting two wars, tracking OBL and other al Qaeda for the past 10 years, and adopting increased security measures.

Others believe the long-term financial impact of 9/11 was minimal. These viewpoints suggest the 2001 recession was a normal part of the business cycle and the self-inflicted wounds from the financial and housing crises were far greater than the impact of 9/11.

The brief comments provided in this and subsequent blogs are not intended to prove or disprove these viewpoints. Rather, the intent is to show how different sectors of the Colorado economy reacted to 9/11, the financial crises, the housing bubble, and the 2001 and 2007 recessions.  In September this blogs will be summarized and compiled at

We’ll begin the discussion by looking at the Leisure and Hospitality sectors.

Tourism was the industry that was initially hit the hardest by 9/11, more so in states such as Nevada than Colorado. Nevertheless, the impact in Colorado was felt immediately. In 2002 there was a drop off in DIA passengers, skier visits, and park visits. This was accompanied by an obvious decline in tourism-related employment.

Sector employment remained soft through 2004. Between 2005 and 2009 the number of leisure and hospitality workers has grown at a rate similar to total state employment. Although tourism employment was hit hard in the 2007 recession, it has since recovered at a faster rate than most other sectors.

On the other hand, employment in Colorado’s air transportation industry declined over the past decade. The sharpest part of the decline coincided with 9/11. A series of industry issues (consolidation, competition, increased productivity, pricing wars, etc.) were exacerbated by the unexpected decline in business. Despite a decline in air transportation employment, the number of passengers at DIA increased from about 39 million in 2000 to more than 51 million in 2010.

©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.