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

Feb 7, 2020

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United Airlines is upgrading its long-haul flights from Denver to mark a deal to expand the hub with new gates that can accommodate a record 700, or more, flights.

The Star Alliance carrier will shift its nonstop flights between Denver (DEN) and Frankfurt (FRA), London Heathrow (LHR) and Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Boeing 787-9 jets this summer, United said Friday. The mid-size Dreamliner that seats for 252 passengers replaces smaller 787-8s with 219 seats on all three routes.

The upgrades come as United and the city of Denver mark the signing of a new agreement that expands the airline’s footprint at the airport to 90 gates by 2022.

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“These additional gates will take the starring role Denver plays in our growth strategy to a new level,” said United CEO Oscar Munoz in a statement. “It will mean more seats, more connections and more destinations as Denver continues to extend the global reach of its businesses and communities.”

United is Denver’s largest airline carrying nearly 45% of the 63.2 million travelers that passed through the airport during the first 11 months of 2019, airport data shows. The airport’s second and third largest, Southwest Airlines and hometown Frontier Airlines, had a 27% and 12% passenger share, respectively.

All three carriers grew in Denver in 2019 and plan to continue to do so this year, though by how much will be limited by outside factors like when the Boeing 737 MAX returns to service.

Related: United Airlines plans largest-ever Denver hub

 

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On Friday, Munoz joined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and airport officials to sign the new gate agreement. United will take control of 24 gates on Concourses A and B — 23 on A, including 12 that are under construction, and one being built on B — for a total of 90 gates at the airport.

The airline plans to grow significantly in Denver, where it established a hub in 1982, with the added gates. Departures are forecast to exceed 700 flights a day by 2025, nearly a third more than the 540 scheduled departures this summer.

The Mile High City expansion comes as United plans to grow system capacity by 4-6% year-over-year in 2020.

Related: How United Airlines’ Denver hub got to 700 flights

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)

 

Denver is in the middle of a $1.5 billion concourse expansion program that will add 12 gates to Concourse A, one on B — 11 are being built but they replace former regional gates — and 16 on C. How the remaining new gates will be divided among airlines remains to be seen.

Southwest has requested the 16 gates being built on Concourse C, a request that TPG understands will be met with details unveiled in the coming weeks.

Frontier has not indicated its gate plans in Denver. The airline added a ninth gate to its portfolio last year.

In addition to the gates, Denver’s expansion works include a redesigned terminal Great Hall, and new outdoor patios on all three concourses.

Denver, the fifth busiest airport in the U.S., was forecast to handle a record nearly 70 million passengers in 2019.

Related: Denver Airport 101: The ultimate guide to DEN

A rendering of the planned outdoor patio on the western end of Concourse A at Denver Airport. (Image courtesy of Denver International Airport)
A rendering of the planned outdoor patio on the western end of Concourse A at Denver Airport. (Image courtesy of Denver International Airport)

 

Featured image courtesy of Denver International Airport.

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