Local leaders celebrate DIA’s 20th anniversary

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DENVER - Things at Denver International Airport have taken flight since the first plane landed in 1995.

It’s now the 5th busiest airport in the country and the 15th busiest in the world.

Still, it’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since DIA opened for business.  Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said, "I still to this day remember very vividly watching the first plane land here at DIA."

And it did so with flying colors, especially considering Colorado’s challenging conditions in February. "It proved it's benefit on Day 1 when it landed 3 aircraft simultaneously in inclement weather,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

When the airport opened on February 28, 1995, it generated three billion dollars a year for the regional economy. Now, it’s over $26 billion. "It drives our economy, it drives our connectivity around the world, you simply cannot underscore the importance of DIA to the entire state of Colorado,” said the Mayor.

Efficient and alluring; it’s quite a contrast to the old Stapleton Airport.  "When it opened it was the most stunning architectural airport in the country. Still is. It was the most cutting edge technology. Still is,” said the CEO of Denver International Airport, Kim Day.

It continues to soar with 53 square miles and room to grow. “We have only 6 runways today, we can grow to 12. The plan is to grow to a 100-million passengers coming through here. We're at 53.4 million today,” said the Mayor.

With the addition of a new Westin Hotel slated to open in November on the airport’s south terminal, and a new commuter rail coming to DIA in 2016, officials say the possibilities are sky-high.

"It is really helping to put the City of Denver on the map, globally," Day said.

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