Southwest Airlines Poised For Major Growth In Denver

Southwest Airlines has chosen Denver as the recipient of a $1.5 billion growth investment. Southwest Airlines will occupy an additional 16 gates at Denver International Airport as part of its development plans from 2022.

Southwest takes off from DIA
Southwest Airlines has secured additional gates at Denver International Airport. Photo: Getty Images

Making an investment in Denver

When it comes to allocating funds for growth, airlines have a tough decision. Where is the market heading? What areas are currently more profitable and which could do with more support? Sometimes, the safest bet is to spread investment in a few profitable areas. However, when the time came for Southwest Airlines to decide where to invest its money, Denver was the clear winner.

Back in November last year, Southwest Airlines spoke with The Denver Post about why it had chosen the city to execute such phenomenal growth. The Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Real Estate at Southwest, Jason Van Eaton, told the publication:


“Denver is our fastest-growing city in our network and we look forward to continuing serving the region’s travelers while connecting them to the places that are important in their lives…”


Another spokesperson for Southwest also told The Denver Post that “there were other markets they were considering” but Denver trumped the rest as “the place for the net new growth.”

So, what will Southwest’s investment entail?


Southwest requests all C gates

Denver International Airport is currently working on improvements which will see the creation of 39 new gates:

  • 12 in Concourse A,
  • 11 in Concourse B,
  • and 16 in Concourse C.

Southwest has certainly not been shy in its acquisition of space at Denver. The airline hopes that it can secure 16 of those new gates and wants them all in Concourse C.

For Southwest, that’s a great strategic move. It already occupies 24 gates in Concourse C and the additional 16 will mean that in as little as two years’ time it will own 40 gates in the same area of the airport.

Southwest Gates Denver
With additional gates, Southwest could double its capacity at Denver. Photo: Getty Images

Not only that but Southwest will subsequently be able to offer a lot more flights in and out of Denver. In fact, the airline projects that with the additional 16 gates it will be able to nearly double its current operations there. Southwest operates between 200 and 255 flights per day out of its Denver airport gates. However, the airline could soon be offering upwards of 300 per day.

Additional benefits for Southwest

It’s clear that this latest development is a testament to the financial stability of the low-cost airline despite losses from the grounding of its MAX aircraft. $1.5 billion is no modest sum and with it, the airline hopes that new gates will renew prosperity. Denver International Airport is currently a workplace for 4,300 Southwest employees. However, additional gates will allow the airline to increase its employment in the region.

Whilst Southwest remains optimistic about its future at Denver, it won’t be without tribulation. Another one of the Big Three American airlines has also been lucky to garner coveted spots at Denver.

United at Denver Airport
United is also expanding in Denver. Photo: Getty Images

United Airlines is expecting to operate more than 700 flights per day from Denver International Airport in 2025. It has also spotted the growth potential at Denver International Airport and could look to expand to more European, transatlantic and South American destinations over the next few years.

That said, this is a very exciting time for Southwest and we look forward to watching its future at Denver.

Do you think Denver was the right place for Southwest to expand? Let us know in the comments! 


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Denver geographically is a good spot for WN to focus on. Good place to funnel east-west traffic and potentially serve as a non-West coast gateway to Hawaii with the right aircraft (considering how much WN is keen to become a large part of the state’s aviation market).

One big challenge is lack of new planes to expand with courtesy of WN going all in with MAX instead of diversifying; WN to build up at DEN will need to make cuts elsewhere.

UA will definitely pose a challenge as well.


Southwest needs to improve the weathersealing of their jetbridges at DEN! Winter cold and wind turns the concourse waiting ares into a gale force icebox of a wind tunnel!!!


Absolutely, this is good for Denver. It makes sense because there is a ton of space to expand at DIA.

But once the MAX grounding is lifted, Southwest should also focus on Nashville in the eastern US. They do not have a large 200+ flight station in the southeastern US, the most populous area of the country. Their Atlanta and Orlando stations have too much competition from Delta and ULCC’s respectively. Baltimore isn’t technically in the southeast; plus, it competes with United/American at Dulles and Reagan respectively). They already have a large presence in Nashville and should expand it to the level (300 flights) they are expanding Denver.


Amazing that Denver can support 3 hubs. Aside from LAX, which is a more O/D market, no other airport can claim this. I’d love to read analysis.