DENVER (KDVR) – Denver International Airport is still feeling the pandemic pain of crashing travel numbers, but the nation’s fifth-busiest airport is outperforming others in terms of keeping its flight schedules stocked.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, global airports went from record-breaking travel highs in 2019 to some of the lowest travel numbers on record. Worldwide, the second quarter of 2020’s 90% drop in global passenger traffic was the worst the industry has ever seen. For the first half of 2020, passenger travel was down 58%.
Industry experts don’t think these trends will correct in short time, either.
The Airports Council International predicts the world won’t see travel numbers as high as 2019’s until 2023 or 2024, leaving airports to scrape by. June, July and August are typically the air travel industry’s money-making months, and airports did see an uptick in travel, but still forecast a 60% drop in revenues from last year.
Despite the global travel gloom, Denver has some silver linings. As dismal as recent numbers are across the record-breaking travel decade that was the 2010s, travel numbers are getting stronger.
On Sunday, Oct. 4, nearly 40,000 people passed through DIA’s checkpoints, which matches Labor Day as the strongest travel numbers since the pandemic hit.
On the whole, DIA is in the same position as most airports – fewer passengers and fewer flights.
The week of Sept. 28 – Oct. 4, the airport experienced a 46% reduction in the daily average number of flights compared to last year.
It also saw a downturn in passenger travel, but there DIA’s performance stacks well against national numbers.
Passenger traffic through DEN’s checkpoints last week was down 53% over the same week in 2019, but this improves on the national average. In the same time period, national traffic was down 67% compared to the same week in 2019.
These averages, albeit a bright spot on a dark time, do reflect on several other key metrics that place DIA in a better position nationally than other major cities’ airports.
DIA ranks first in the top 20 U.S. airports for November capacity retention and has the last three months in a row. It is the only airport to retain more than 75% of last year’s capacity, and has the smallest decline in November for both United Airlines and Southwest Airlines flight hubs.