Southwest Airlines is getting more gates at Denver Airport
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Southwest Airlines looks set to grow at Denver International Airport with a new deal that will give it 16 more gates.
The Dallas-based carrier would use the 16 gates under construction on Concourse C at Denver Airport (DEN) under an updated lease, according to the agenda for a Denver City Council committee meeting. The new facilities would give Southwest 40 gates on Concourse C by 2022.
The gate deal comes as the Boeing 737 MAX grounding has hamstrung Southwest’s ambitions to grow. After shrinking capacity by 1.6% year-over-year in 2019 because of the MAX suspension, executives said in January that what little growth the airline does see this year will be concentrated at its Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Denver and Houston Hobby (HOU) bases, as well as to Hawaii.
Denver is Southwest’s third largest city by flight numbers, with 214 daily departures at the end of December, according to the carrier.
Southwest has sought the additional gates since at least last May. At the time, the airline’s CEO, Gary Kelly, told reporters that the airline would “like all of them.” The added gates in Concourse C are part of the airport’s $1.5 billion expansion across all three concourses.
Southwest spokesman Dan Landson confirmed to TPG that the additional gates will support the carrier’s “long-term growth plans” in Denver.
The lease is the second such gate agreement in as many months for Denver. The airport unveiled a similar deal with United Airlines, its largest carrier, for 24 additional gates in January. That agreement was signed earlier in February.
With its new gates, United plans to expand its Denver operations to at least 700 departures by 2025 — its largest presence there since it opened the hub in 1982. The airline will operate roughly 540 departures from the airport this summer.
The Southwest deal, while expected, raises questions over where Denver airport will locate other carriers. Combined with the recent United agreement, all of the new gates under construction at the airport are now spoken for, as well as some existing gates on Concourse A currently used by Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines.
Asked about plans to relocate Delta and Frontier, airport spokeswoman Emily Williams told TPG that discussions with the airlines are ongoing and an agreement is expected this spring.
Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter told TPG that the airline will continue to serve Denver but declined to comment on its future gate location.
Southwest was the second largest carrier in Denver in 2019, the latest airport data shows. The airline had a 27.4% share of the airport’s 69 million passengers, behind United’s nearly 45% share.
Denver was the fifth-busiest airport in the U.S. in 2018, according to the latest Federal Aviation Administration ranking. The airport appears to have remained as No. 5 last year, with No. 4 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) reporting 75 million passengers, though the official FAA ranking is still some months off.
The Denver City Council’s business, arts, workforce and aviation services committee is scheduled to vote on the updated Southwest agreement on February 26.
Frontier was not immediately available for comment.
Updated with comment from Delta Air Lines.
Featured image courtesy of Denver International Airport.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,040
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
- $250 Annual Fee
- Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
- Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
- Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
- Earn 2X miles on all other travel
- Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
- Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.