DEN Unveils Airy, Modern Concourse B Expansion, with Six Gates to be Used by United

Nov. 23, 2020
It's the first addition to open of four underway at the ends of the airport's concourses, all part of a $1.5 billion project that's expected to add 39 gates by 2022.

Nov. 21—Bright light fills the expansive, modern addition to Denver International Airport's Concourse B, where passengers will be able to sip drinks by fire pits on an outdoor terrace while waiting for their flights.

DIA unveiled the six-gate expansion on the west end of its largest concourse Friday, two days before United Airlines flights were set to begin docking at the new jet bridges. It's the first addition to open of four underway at the ends of the airport's concourses, all part of a $1.5 billion project that's expected to add 39 gates by 2022. Accounting for some replacements, the additions will increase gate capacity by nearly a third.

The gate additions are among several big-ticket projects aimed at increasing the 25-year-old airport's capacity to keep up with airline and passenger demand in coming years, including a terminal renovation that's run much less smoothly. DIA plans to announce the reduced scope of that severely cash-strapped project next week.

The coronavirus pandemic has introduced new uncertainty about the timing of the airport's growth trajectory, as airline traffic is down substantially.

Matt Miller, vice president of United's Denver hub operation, said the carrier remains committed to the lease deal it signed in February to add 24 gates, nearly all of them from the additions. He noted that even as United's flight schedule has fallen from a pre-pandemic load of 500 departures a day this year, Denver has become its largest hub for connecting flights, eclipsing Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

"Our commitment to get up to 700 flights, we originally said, was by 2025 — and I don't expect anything to change with that timeline," Miller said.

Two of the six new gates opening Sunday are replacements for old ones, making for a net addition of four on Concourse B. United also will take seven new gates under construction on B-east as well as a dozen on Concourse A's west end.

Southwest Airlines, DIA's second-largest carrier, has committed to 16 gates that are being added to Concourse C's east end.

The B-west expansion added 89,247 square feet of public and restricted space, DIA says. Visually, the new space breaks markedly with the decor of the original concourse.

Amenities include curved seating in the center, with outlets installed in the furniture, space for future food concessions and the terrace at the concourse's end, looking toward the mountains. It has two fire pits, a bar and a "pet relief" area.

A pair of new bathrooms are laid out differently from others at DIA, with windows overlooking the tarmac in the hand-washing areas. An airport spokeswoman said the expansion's energy and water systems, which include rooftop solar panels, are designed to earn LEED Gold efficiency certification.

Downstairs, beyond restricted-access doors, United has installed a new system, including six 29,000-gallon tanks, to supply deicing fluid to pads on that end of the concourse.


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