DIA could rebound to 200K international travelers a month as ban lifts

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver International Airport should see the number of travelers nose back up to prepandemic levels now that international travel restrictions are lifted.

President Joe Biden announced on Sept. 23 an end to pandemic travel restrictions on foreign travelers into the U.S. Thirty-three countries had been on the travel ban, including the United Kingdom, China, India, Iran, Republic of Ireland, Brazil and South Africa.

As international traffic opens back up Nov. 8, DIA will recover some of what it lost in the last 20 months.

In a statement, DIA officials said foreign travelers made up the bulk of the airport’s visitors.

“In 2019 DEN welcomed more than 1.7 million international travelers,” the statement said. “Visitors from the banned countries represented nearly 40% of total inbound travel to Denver, with the highest volumes from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and China, respectively.”

Between November 2018 and January 2020, every month at DIA had at least 200,000 inbound and outbound foreign travelers. In March 2020, that number crashed.

The airport saw no foreign travel at all in May or June 2020. Summer travel brought numbers back up to normal ranges, but they fell again through September.

Airlines said this is already changing. United Airlines is expecting a 50% increase in inbound foreign travel to the U.S. on Nov. 8.

Delta Air Lines did not have passenger counts, but a representative said travel plans to the U.S. have spiked.

“In the six weeks since the U.S reopening was announced, Delta has seen a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings,” Morgan Durrant, a Delta Air Lines spokesperson wrote.

Though not a travel destination or hub to the degree of coastal cities, Denver is still one of the country’s top spots for foreign bookings.

According to Travelport, Denver ranks 21st in bookings from Mexico, 36th in bookings from the United Kingdom and 85th in bookings from Canada.

According to DEN, the next year will see its greatest amount of foreign travel yet.

“In summer 2022, DEN is scheduled to have more nonstop international flights and capacity than at any point in the airport’s history. Nonstop international flights will be up by 16 percent, and capacity will be up by 28 percent, as compared to summer 2019. Of DEN’s 25 airlines, 15 will provide nonstop international service to 25 destinations in summer 2022,” officials said.

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