Southwest Airlines has big plans for its new gates in Denver

Feb 27, 2020

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Southwest Airlines has big plans for the 16 gates it is on track to add to its facilities in Denver.

The Dallas-based carrier plans to use the gates to add more routes from Denver International Airport (DEN), such as the airline’s recently unveiled service to Steamboat Springs, Southwest managing director of airport affairs Steve Sisneros said Wednesday. The airline will also add frequencies on many of its more than 69 existing routes from the airport.

“It’s adding depth and breadth to the markets we serve,” he told a Denver City Council committee on Southwest’s plans for the gates.

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Under the deal that was approved by the committee Wednesday, Southwest will add 16 under-construction gates on the east end of Concourse C to the 24 it already controls there. It will move into the new facilities by the middle of 2022.

United Airlines, Southwest’s prime competitor, recently signed a similar deal with the city. The Chicago-based carrier will add 24 gates on Concourses A and B to the 66 it currently has there. The airline plans to use the gates to grow its hub in the Mile High City to more than 700 departures by 2025, up from roughly 540 departures it operates there this summer.

Together, Southwest and United will take all of the 39 new gates that are under construction at Denver airport. The works include new areas for passengers to wait for flights, and outdoor patios on all three of the airport’s concourses.

“It really is going to be a fantastic customer experience for [travelers] when we get this done,” Denver airport’s finance chief Gisela Shanahan said at the meeting.

Related: Southwest is getting more gates at Denver airport

Southwest Airlines is getting 16 new gates on Concourse C at Denver Airport. (Image courtesy of Denver International Airport)
Southwest Airlines is getting 16 new gates on Concourse C at Denver Airport. (Image courtesy of Denver International Airport)


One thing absent from the proceedings was where other airlines will go with the Southwest and United deals. While the former’s agreement is only for new, unassigned gates, the latter’s accord would displace both Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines from some or all of their current facilities in Concourse A.

Southwest and United’s growth in Denver comes as the airport posted yet another record year in 2019. More than 69 million passengers passed through the facility — the fifth busiest in the U.S. — best known for its iconic mountain-inspired terminal roof last year.

Denver itself continues to grow, with U.S. Census estimating that the population of the metro area grew 1.5% year-over-year to 2.9 million in 2018, according to the latest available data.

The Denver airport is the third-busiest in Southwest’s network with 214 departures, airline data shows.

The airline’s new gate lease must now go to the Denver City Council for final approval.

Related: Denver airport will get the first of 3 new outdoor patios this year

Featured image courtesy of Denver International Airport.

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