Stacey Stegman, senior vice-president for communications, marketing, and customer service at DIA addresses the Denver South EDP.
The Denver South Economic Development Partnership meeting was held at the Lone Tree Arts Center June 1 to hear reports on aviation developments at Denver International Airport and Centennial Airport.
Denver South President Mike Fitzgerald welcomed the audience and introduced Robert Olislagers, executive director of Centennial Airport. Fitzgerald related that Olislagers had been honored as the top aviation executive manager in America in 2016.
Olislagers told the group, “Young millennials are coming to Colorado to work because of the quality of life found here. This available youthful workforce is an incentive for more business firms to locate in the south metro area.”
He reported that Centennial was the second-busiest airport in the United States with $1.39 billion in revenues, 300,000 landings and departures, and a $427-million-dollar payroll. He estimated the tax revenue for local municipal and county partners at $33 million.
“The airport is entirely self-supporting and is 100-percent user supported,” he said.
The second speaker was Stacey Stegman, senior vice-president for communications, marketing, and customer service at DIA.
Stegman reported that DIA or DEN is the sixth-busiest airport in the nation and 18th in the world. The airport served more than 58.3 million passengers in 2016, an 8 percent increase over 2015 and the third year in a row of record-setting passenger traffic. DEN is home to 24 airlines serving more than 185 nonstop destinations and 23 international cities in nine countries.
Along with the increase in passenger traffic, Stegman related that DIA is “Colorado’s biggest economic engine, bringing $26 billion in revenue.” She reported that the airport has 35,000 workers and 155,000 indirect jobs.
Going back to the leadership of former Mayor Federico Pena, Stegman related that “local visionaries chose to build DEN on 53 square miles, amounting to 17,000 acres of then Adams County.”
She outlined how there was room to grow, with plans underway to expand the three concourses to five, saying runways could expand from six to 12.
Stegman told the audience that plans to remodel the existing airport would commence in late summer after final approval by the Denver City Council.
“We have a changing airport environment,” she explained.
The new 519-room Westin Hotel brings more people to the airport. Many new amenities will be added to the remodeling of the Great Hall, making it a “great oasis.” New components will be a consolidated ticket lobby, an A-bridge connection, a new meter-greeter southern lobby and a post-security area.
“There will be a beer garden and putt-putt golf, and many new events,” Stegman said.
Her statistics reveal that DEN is the fastest growing hub for both United and Southwest airlines with nearly 75 percent of the market share combined.
The business plan brings in millions of dollars from nonairline revenue streams, parking being the largest contributor, amounting to $177 million in 2016. Concession amounted to $65 million, rental cars $67 million, and the new hotel $43 million.
Stegman said this other income “… holds down our expenses to our airline partners.”
Lastly, DEN is developing Pena Station, 60 acres at the site, leveraged to a 400-acre development with Panasonic as the anchor tenant. Stegman reports that Panasonic chose this location partially because of DEN’s nonstop Tokyo flights. The project concept will be a “smart city,” modeled after the Fujisawa development outside of Tokyo.
The airport remodel and developments will occur over the next four years, along with the opening of the nearby Gaylord Convention Hotel and Convention Center in 2018.
Craig Teasdale, area director for Signature Flight Support, represents one of the FBO firms that keeps the airplanes flying, with his firm supplying more than 160 million gallons of jet fuel annually.
Signature is the largest FBO network in the world with headquarters in London and listed on that city’s stock exchange. His firm has more than 10 million square feet of hangar and office space and employs 5,000 worldwide team members.
Teasdale is a 1999 graduate of Metro State University’s pioneer aviation program, starting his career with Comb’s Aviation at the old Stapleton Airport, which became part of the Signature group.
He said he has 22 employees at Centennial Airport, another 20 at DIA and 22 at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County.
The last speaker at the session was retired UAF (Ret.) Maj. Gen. John Barry, president and CEO of Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.
Barry is a combat veteran, having flown 207 combat missions, and was at the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9/11. He was a White House fellow, a distinct honor for outstanding military schools. Barry is an Air Force Academy graduate.
He described a “dynamic plan” for a new flight-school educational program locating at Centennial Airport, with $13 million pledged for the $24 million school. The Young Eagles program is coordinating with Cherry Creek Schools for students who want to pursue careers in aviation.
Gen. Barry describes the program as “serving a need for this great country, as many as 18,000 pilots will retire by 2025.”
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