Denver figuring out where to put other airlines after gate deals with United and Southwest

Mar 6, 2020

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Denver International Airport faces a puzzle. Its two largest carriers Southwest Airlines and United Airlines have deals for new gates under construction at the field, but questions continue to swirl around where other carriers will go — and grow — in the Mile High City.

The future locations of Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines in Denver (DEN) are at the center of the intrigue. Some of their existing gates, or all in Delta’s case, will shift to United when that carrier takes over 23 gates on the eastern end of Concourse A by early 2022. United’s expansion includes 12 new and 11 existing gates at the airport.

“We have enough gates for everyone to grow,” Denver Airport CEO Kim Day told TPG on the sidelines of the U.S. Chamber of Summit Aviation Summit in Washington on Thursday. She added that the Southwest and United agreements are only the first of several with the airport’s airlines, and that “there’s more to come.”

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Denver International Airport is adding 39 gates across its three concourses. (Image by Denver International Airport)
Denver International Airport is adding 39 gates across its three concourses. (Image by Denver International Airport)


Asked what the airport plans to do with Delta and Frontier, Day said they will both be accommodated but where they move is still in the works. Delta, she added, has requested one additional gate on top of the six they already use.

One outlet for Denver airport’s growth are nine temporary gates on the eastern end of Concourse A. Opened in 2018 just as work on the larger expansion got under way, the facility will receive some “modifications,” as Day put it, to extend its life.


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Denver International temporary concourse A gates (2018).

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The temporary Concourse A wing will be home for “one of our airline partners” once United moves into its new digs, said Day. She declined to say what airline will move in.

Related: Southwest Airlines has big plans for its new gates in Denver

It’s perhaps worth noting that the temporary A wing has nine gates, the same number that hometown carrier Frontier currently uses.

The new gates are part of a larger multi-billion dollar expansion of Denver airport. Works includes an upgraded terminal, additional carriages on the terminal-concourse train, and new outdoor patios on the ends of the three concourses.

The capital works at Denver airport come amid a decade of passenger traffic growth. Last year, a record 69 million travelers passed through the facility on the plains east of the city.

Executives at both Southwest and United say their airlines plan to grow at the airport in the coming years. United has even said it could operate more than 700 departures from Denver by 2025.

Related:  United Airlines marks new Denver gates with more long-haul seats

Featured image by Matt Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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