Denver's Population Growth Leads to More International Routes
Denver International Airport announced Wednesday that Edelweiss Airlines will begin flying from DEN to Zurich (ZRH), Switzerland. The new flights will be twice a week (Mondays and Fridays), using a 315-seat Airbus A330-300. Edelweiss is just the latest of several recent international service additions in Denver — let's look at which other airlines are growing.
Edelweiss will begin its Denver flights on June 4, 2018. Edelweiss is owned by Swiss International Air Lines, a subsidiary of the German carrier Lufthansa. Departing from DEN, the Monday flights leave at 10pm and arrive at 3:50pm the next day, while the Friday flights depart at 6:05pm and arrive at 11:55am the next day. WK16 leaves ZRH at 5:05pm and arrives in DEN at 8:20pm.
Norwegian Air Shuttle
DEN has also recently gained new service by Norwegian Air, flying to London Gatwick (LGW) launching September 16. Norwegian will use its 787 on the route. Departing DEN, you'd take DY7172 at 2:40pm, landing in LGW at 6:40am the next morning. Returning from London, you'd take DY7171 at 9:50am, landing in Denver at 12:40pm. The airline will fly from Gatwick to Denver on Tuesdays and Saturdays each week, then add a third weekly flight in early November.
Beginning December 11, Copa will begin flying nonstop from DEN to Panama City four times a week. Copa flight CM477 will depart Denver on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 10:30pm, arriving at the Hub of the Americas (PTY) in Panama at 6:05am the following morning. The return flight, CM476, will depart Panama on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 11:50am, arriving in Denver at 4:12pm. United served this route in 2014-2015, but it only lasted for ten months.
Lufthansa has flown from Denver to Frankfurt (FRA) for years, but it also added DEN to Munich (MUC) last summer, and has since grown the route to a daily flight with a larger plane, switching from the A330-300 to the A340-600. LH481 leaves DEN at 4:10pm and arrives in MUC at 10:10am the following morning. Returning to DEN, LH480 leaves MUC at 11:25am and gets to DEN at 2:35pm.
Southwest has added several international flights from Denver over the past couple of years. The carrier's newest international destination from Denver is Belize City (BZE), with service that began in March. It was originally intended as seasonal service, but things have gone well enough for flights to continue. Flights to BZE happen on Saturdays at 9:55am, arriving at 3:05pm on flight 288. You can return the following Saturday at 1:10pm, arriving in Denver at 5:30pm on flight 289. If you don't want to spend a whole week in Belize, you can return via a connection in Houston Hobby on other days of the week. Southwest also flies between Denver and Cancun (CUN), Cabo San Lucas (SJD) and Puerto Vallarta (PVR).
Denver's population grew by 190,897 people between 2014-2016, creating more demand for international flight options. United is Denver's largest carrier, but the only long-haul international destination it serves is Tokyo. Zurich will be Denver's 24th nonstop international location and its first nonstop to Switzerland.
As it's the sixth-largest US airport and 19th-largest in the world (by total passengers flown), one could easily expect DEN to attract one of the big Middle Eastern airlines, who can't seem to have enough planes or destinations. The 7,771-mile route from Dubai to Denver is well within the range of the Airbus A380 or the Boeing 777 and 787. However, the airport's lounges leave a lot to be desired. An airline like Emirates, Etihad or Qatar would surely want a more luxurious lounge space for its passengers, in order to maintain a consistent brand experience. The shared Oneworld lounge on Concourse A and Star Alliance lounges on Concourse B are small and minimalist in terms of features and amenities. As it currently stands, Edelweiss premium passengers would have to visit one of United's two lounges on Concourse B, which is hardly convenient when their flight departs from Concourse A. No word on whether DEN plans to add or upgrade any lounges, but the airport's "Master Plan" includes up to two more terminals and an additional six runways.