Denver International Airport (DEN) has revealed the first four of 39 new gates for United Airlines. These four gates are on the west side of Concourse B and will be put in use right away with United operating flights out of them this weekend, leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday season.
The new gates
The four new gates are just part of the new unveiling. There are also six holdrooms (which are passenger waiting areas at the gate) and additional airline support areas. The total new square footage clocks in at a whopping 89,247 (~8,291 square meters).
Passengers will also get to access new restrooms, a nursing room, and a pet relief area. The expanded area also comes with upgraded wayfinding, digital signage, and plenty of seating so people can spread out. A necessity in the 21st century, the new gates also offer outlets for charging. The first outdoor deck at Denver will also debut, so passengers can take advantage of outdoor seating, fire pits, and pet relief areas while also taking in the mountains around the airport. In the future, new concessions will also be added.
Denver Airport’s CEO, Kim Day, stated the following in a release viewed by Simple Flying:
“The new gates on B-West provide a glimpse into the future of DEN’s concourses. It won’t be too long before the expansion work is completed on each concourse and we complete upgrades throughout each concourse, enhancing the experience for all passengers to enjoy. We are proud to have achieved this milestone on time and on budget and would like to thank our airline partners for their continued commitment to DEN as well as our contractors for helping us build DEN’s future.”
The Denver Gate Expansion Program
The Denver Gate Expansion Program will cost a total of $1.5 billion and is part of the airport’s five-year capital improvement program. The airport, built to handle 50 million passengers in a year, was strained when it handled 69 million last year. It was clear that, as a major airline hub, the airport would need to grow. United Airlines, the largest carrier at the airport and operating a massive hub there, is a major partner of the gate expansion program.
The Gate Expansion Program continues with active construction ongoing at Concourse A-West, Concourse B-East, and Concourse C-East. DEN currently expects all of these gates to be operational in 2022.
The first phase will build up 39 new concourse gates, of which these four are an integral part. The overall 39-gate expansion will increase the airport’s capacity by about 30%. The new gates found across all three concourses will allow existing airlines to grow while also leaving room for new domestic and international airlines to enter. This project first started in May of 2018.
Concourse A is getting 12 new gates, 16 holdrooms, and additional support space along with new concession spaces and outdoor decks. All 12 of these gates will be leased to United Airlines. This construction is expected to be completed in 2021, with operations starting in 2022. This expansion will also add another outdoor deck.
Concourse B has another project going on at the east end with five new narrowbody gates and five regional gates with 12 holdrooms. All of these gates are also going to United Airlines. This expansion will be complete in 2021, with operations starting in 2022
Concourse C, meanwhile, is getting 16 new gates and 20 holdrooms. All of these gates are going to Southwest Airlines. Concourse C-East will also get a new outdoor deck and will be finished with construction in 2021 and ready to accept customers and planes in 2022.
Denver is also working on a $560 million renewal of existing facilities. This includes improving restrooms, installing new carpeting, furniture, ceilings, updating wayfinding, and replacing moving walkways and escalators.
United has some big plans for Denver
United Airlines was very excited to get all these new gates out of one of its most profitable hubs in Denver. The hub, which caters to a lot of domestic travelers, has some limited long-haul international services only to Frankfurt, London, and Tokyo. The first and the last are partner hubs for United.
Denver has one special issue with it. The airport is at an elevation of over 5,000 feet. This means that airplanes need extra runway length for departure. During the summer, this gets to a hot and high airport, along with the likes of Mexico City and Johannesburg. The low air density due to elevation changes how an aircraft performs because less dense air does not generate as much lift. Two of the more viable options are either to reduce an aircraft’s weight or else lengthen the runway for a longer takeoff roll. Both of these will help an aircraft get the required amount of lift it needs to get off the runway.
So, long-haul international operations are an option out of Denver. But flights to places like Australia or Singapore are probably not going to work out of the airport. Other options include transatlantic services, such as to Munich, another partner hub, or to Beijing if United can get approved for operations to China.
Beyond that, expect significant growth in United’s domestic schedule once the gates open up. There will definitely be some more regional flying, but as United takes on more narrowbody aircraft, like 737 MAXs, expect some more flights out of Denver.
Don’t forget Southwest and Frontier
Two other major airlines at Denver are Southwest and Frontier. Southwest’s 16 new gates out of Denver is no small number. For reference, Dallas-Love, another Southwest operating base, has 20 gates, and Southwest does not use all of them, yet it still has a robust set of operations to and from Love Field. So, out of Denver, Southwest is poised for major growth.
Frontier may also end up getting a few extra gets in Denver if Southwest or United abandon a couple of older ones. The bigger factor with Frontier is that, with Denver being the airline’s largest set of operations and headquarters, the airline will definitely be growing as it takes new Airbus A320neo family jets – including XLRs.
Are you going to check out these new gates in Denver? Are you glad to see the airport expanding? Let us know in the comments!