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Denver Airport seeks approval for completion of the Great Hall Project

Posted: 21 December 2021 | | No comments yet

Denver International Airport has requested approval from Denver City Council to complete the final phases of the Great Hall Project, including improvements to the Jeppesen Terminal.

Denver Airport seeks approval for completion of the Great Hall Project

Denver International Airport (DEN) has announced that it is seeking approval from Denver City Council for the Great Hall Completion, the final phase of the Great Hall Project, which includes a full buildout of improvements to the Jeppesen Terminal. The announcement of this phase comes on the heels of the completion of Phase 1, which constructed new ticketing/check-in spaces with self-bag drop units for United and Southwest passengers in the centre of the terminal.

“Fully building out the Great Hall Project now is the responsible thing to do and is crucial to DEN’s future success,” commented DEN CEO, Phil Washington. “It is essential that we continue the work we have started to better protect our passengers, upgrade our aging facility and prepare it for the future. We are recovering quickly, and our growth will continue to be robust over the next 10 to 20 years. Time is of the essence and these improvements must happen now before it’s even more expensive and disruptive to passengers.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, DEN served 69 million passengers and is expected to serve about 70 million passengers in 2022 and 100 million passengers in approximately 10 years. Moving forward with the Great Hall Completion directly ties to DEN’s Vison 100 plan, which will help DEN prepare for this growth. Put simply, more passengers mean more flights, more local jobs, increased revenue for the region, and more economic impact for our region.

The proposed Great Hall Complete plan must first get approved by Denver City Council. The proposal includes the following:

  • Improved safety for passengers. A new security checkpoint with enhanced technology on the northeast side of Level 6. With the completion of this second checkpoint, both the checkpoints on Level 5 will be relocated to Level 6. At the same time, this will enable DEN to add more screening lanes, increasing capacity by more than 60%
  • Modern and spacious ticketing areas. New check-in areas will be built on the south end of Level 6 for all remaining airlines, not just United, Southwest and Frontier. These modular spaces will provide greater flexibility for airline expansion and other changing needs in the future
  • Upgraded facility. The project will renovate restrooms, replace flooring, lighting, elevators/escalators, etc. These improvements will save DEN approximately $200 to 250 million in maintenance costs over 10 years
  • Comfortable spaces to meet and greet travellers. This includes both domestic and international arrivals on Level 5
  • Developing a pipeline of aviation talent. Building and creating DEN’s Centre of Excellence and Equity in Aviation, which will be constructed on Level 4 of the Westin Denver International Airport. The Centre will engage, educate, empower, motivate, and provide opportunities for students who are under-represented and young people who are interested in and passionate about careers in aviation. It will help build a future skilled workforce and become a focal point for aviation knowledge and best practices.

These additional improvements to the Jeppesen Terminal will provide numerous benefits to our passengers and community including:

  • Creating 6,500 direct jobs, 500 indirect jobs, 1,300 induced jobs and an estimated 54,000 additional apprenticeship hours. Additionally, the community will benefit from training and job opportunities once the project is complete, and when DEN’s Centre of Excellence and Equity in Aviation opens
  • Providing additional space to allow airlines to better serve passengers and to grow by adding new airlines and destinations and creating more options for connecting our community to the world
  • Creating efficiencies that are concurrent with construction of the existing phases of the project and allows DEN to minimise construction impacts
  • Increasing capacity of the terminal to accommodate at least 100 million annual passengers. 

The proposed budget for the Great Hall Completion including contingency and the capacity for DEN to meet all the terminal’s needs is $1.3 billion and will not be funded with taxpayer dollars, but rather by revenue generated at the airport. If this phase is approved by Denver City Council in January 2022, the Great Hall Completion would begin work in late 2022 and is expected to be complete between spring 2027 and summer 2028 with sections opening along the way. A more definitive timeline will be determined once design is complete. 

East and west security with view to the north. Credit: Denver International Airport (DEN)

“We have made a number of changes from what was proposed when the Great Hall Project was originally conceived,” added Washington. “While there is still a need to provide food and services for travellers, no one should mistake this as being a shopping mall. This project is about making sure DEN is ready for 100 million annual passengers. We cannot afford to fall behind and we owe it to our community to do the right thing for this airport. I understand that additional years of construction isn’t what many want to hear, but the most difficult work is behind us. This last phase of construction will be less impactful than the previous phase of construction in the centre and we will open sections along the way as work is completed. We will do everything possible to make this a better experience for travellers.”

Currently, Phase 2 of the Great Hall Project is under construction and will be complete by mid-2024 with the checkpoint completed in the first quarter of 2024. Hensel Phelps is the contractor for Phase 1 and 2 and would be the contractor for the Great Hall Completion under this proposal. The first two phases will be completed within the $770 million budget that was established at the start of the current Great Hall construction work.

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