Biz: Why is DIA So Far From Denver?

July 31 2012, 9:55 AM

In our August issue, we caught up with Denver International Airport's aviation manager, Kim Day, to chat travel pet peeves, weather forecasting, and conspiracy theories. But, it seems no casual conversation about the airport is complete without a discussion about why DIA feels like it's in another state (technically it's about 23 miles from the central part of the city), so we asked Day about that, too. What do you say to people who complain about the airport being so far away? Simply put, Day says DIA is in the perfect spot and that the location is a "luxury."

Consider this, she says, LAX, San Francisco, La Guardia, and Miami are each strangled by development. "All of those coastal airports will run out of room" Day says. By way of comparison, she suggests looking at Beijing and Hong Kong. "They have built airports a ways from city proper and they have connected it with a train, which Denver is getting closer to doing, and then they have had the opportunity to actually control the development around it." This, Day says, is the recipe for success. 

We've examined the whole airport-is-far-away thing before. Turns out, the 53 square miles of land where DIA sits now wasn't the city's first choice for a new airport. Extending the old Stapleton International Airport into Adams County was first on the idea list. But Adams County residents weren't having it, so the plan shifted north. Which, Day says, is a good thing. The opportunity for the airport to expand where it's located is a "luxury." Couple all that with the fact that today's planes can fly longer routes, and, according to Day, DIA is better positioned for long-term success than almost any airport in the country. "Smack-dab in the middle of the country, we have the opportunity to become a mega-global hub," says Day. "Unlike anything else you will ever see in America." We'll ponder that the next time we're driving to the airport. After all, we'll have plenty of drive time to do so. 

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