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The opening of nearly three dozen new gates at Denver International Airport this year has its two largest carriers plotting rapid expansions that will test the busy airport’s ability to process millions more passengers and get them to their flights.

DIA has billions of dollars worth of projects underway to accommodate that growth on some fronts. Larger, long-overdue security checkpoints will begin opening by early 2024 as part of its drawn-out $2.1 billion terminal renovation.

But other pinch points could get worse if the airlines stick to their plans — especially on the underground concourse train system and on DIA’s runways, The Denver Post found in a review of airport-commissioned passenger and air traffic forecasts, planning documents and statements by major airlines.

The aggressive growth plans include a nearly 20% increase in daily departures by Southwest Airlines by this fall, and likely much more in coming years. By 2025, United Airlines aims to increase its schedule out of Denver by more than 50%, ramping up to nearly 700 departures on an average day.

While the airport has set plans in motion to increase the train’s capacity, the timing is potentially tight. It’s based on growth projections that are more conservative than those shared with DIA’s planning consultant by the airlines.

DIA leaders express confidence that they’ll keep up with the growth, no matter how fast it comes, as part of initiatives they’re working out under the airport’s “Vision 100” strategic plan. That plan is aimed at accommodating 100 million passengers a year within the next decade — or even sooner, as looks likely based on growing travel to and from Denver as well as expanding connections through DIA.

— Full story via Jon Murray, The Denver Post 

DIA’s trains and runways are getting more crowded. Can it keep up with skyrocketing travel?

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See more great photos like this on The Denver Post’s Instagram account.

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