Record Numbers at Denver Airport: Connecting Passengers Drive Traffic Boom

In 2023, Denver International Airport (DEN) saw a record number of passengers, largely driven by connecting passengers, while origin and destination (O&D) traffic stayed at levels similar to before the pandemic. DEN served 77.8 million passengers in 2023, a 12.3% increase from the 69.3 million in 2022, which was previously the airport's busiest year. Each month of 2023 set a new record for passenger traffic volume, according to DEN's summary. In 2022, DEN was the third busiest airport globally as per Airports Council International (ACI) World, and it was expected to maintain this ranking in 2023 based on ACI's preliminary data for the year's first ten months.


While 2023 also became DEN's busiest year for O&D traffic, the growth was marginal at 0.1% over 2019, which was the previous record year for O&D passengers. The significant growth in 2023 was driven by a 35.7% increase in connecting passengers compared to 2019. In 2023, DEN served 4 million international passengers, a 21.5% increase from the previous year and the highest ever for the airport. International passengers accounted for 5.2% of DEN's traffic in 2023, up from 4.6% in 2019. United Airlines transported 36 million passengers to and from DEN in 2023, its highest ever at the airport, securing a leading market share of 46.8%. The Star Alliance carrier operates a hub at DEN.


Southwest Airlines, with a market share of 30.9%, handled 24 million passengers, its highest ever from DEN. Frontier Airlines, based in Denver, was the airport's third leading airline in 2023 with a 9.6% share, serving 7.5 million passengers, its highest at the airport since 2019. In 2023, DEN's total cargo volume was 680 million tons, a decrease of 5.9% from 2022, but 1.4% higher than 2019. Cargo carried in passenger aircraft bellies increased by 8.1% year-over-year at DEN, while freighter volumes decreased by 10% year-over-year.

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DEN has introduced a new "Premium Reserve Parking" service for passengers. For a daily fee of $50, passengers can park in prime locations in garages with direct terminal access, reducing the time spent walking or waiting for shuttles. Passengers can reserve parking spaces up to 90 days or as little as 5 minutes before a flight using an app. DEN CEO Phil Washington stated that this efficient parking solution will allow passengers to concentrate on their trip without the added stress of finding parking.

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