Groundbreaking has begun on a new project to ease congestion and increase the gate capacity at Denver International’s terminal by 30 percent. It comes at a time when the airport is handling record numbers of passengers, destinations and achieving awards for its efforts.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Denver International CEO Kim Day were present at the ceremony to start work on the new Gate Expansion Project, alongside airline partners whose passengers will benefit.

The project will see an extra 39 gates added to the terminal. These will be split over the three concourses, with 12 added to concourse A — including international arrival gates; 11 will be added to concourse B and 16 to concourse C.

An illustration of the locations of gate expansions at Denver International. (Courtesy Denver International Airport)

The expansion work will cost around $1.5 billion, with work expected to be completed by spring 2021. It will add significant capacity to the airport at a time when it is experiencing growing demand from airlines both on domestic and international services.

"The new gates are one of several major projects in our $3.5 billion five-year capital improvement program that will prepare DEN for the future," said airport CEO Kim Day. "We will not only increase capacity, but we will add more passenger amenities including food and shopping, charging stations and even outdoor space where you can enjoy Colorado’s beautiful weather and scenery."

This year, Denver will introduce a new service to Switzerland and has recently introduced long-haul services from Norwegian Air. In addition, resident carriers Frontier and United Airlines are set to increase their flights from the airport, the latter by 10.9 percent.

United will use many of the new gates on the A and B concourses to work towards a hub operation similar to that of Delta at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson.

An artist’s rendering of the expanded B concourse at DIA. (Courtesy Denver International Airport)

The airport’s record of 61.3 million passengers handled in 2017 is up 5.3 percent on the previous year, and makes it the fifth busiest in the world. In the recent Skytrax World Airport Awards, Denver International was also voted highest ranked of any U.S. airport, and 29th overall in the world.

"Today, the airport’s success is outgrowing the building and the enhanced capacity that comes with these new gates will allow for more flights, more destinations and more options for those traveling to and from Denver, all of which keeps Colorado’s economy strong," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

Denver Airport has stressed that the new gate additions will have a minimal effect on existing operations as they will take place at the ends of the concourses and won’t require any gates or passenger areas to be closed during construction.

However, additional works under the capital improvement program may have more of an impact on passengers as terminal spaces are revamped, starting this summer. They will include consolidating ticketing areas, moving security screening zones and the development of new concessions areas.