PTE interview: Denver International’s CEO sees a bright future ahead

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Kim Day, CEO, Denver International Airport (DEN), discusses the sustainability and public-private partnership strategies that will drive the future growth of the airport.

Describe your presentation.
This presentation will focus on the vision, initiatives, projects and programmes DEN is undertaking to shape Denver International Airport’s future. DEN is in the process of delivering a US$3.5 billion capital investment programme (CIP), which includes two major projects that are currently under way. First is our Great Hall Redevelopment. This project will enhance and improve security, modernise ticketing lobbies and building systems and create pre- and post-security concession areas. When completed, our terminal will have 30% more capacity, able to accommodate 80 million annual passengers. The second major project is our Gate Expansion project, which adds 39 new gates in response to airline demands. The $1.8 billion project expands DEN’s concourses by extending the ends, thereby minimising passenger disruption. In addition to more gates, the project will add concessions to improve the passenger experience.

How important is sustainability in your future plans?
Sustainability remains a major commitment and focus for DEN. It’s part of our Colorado culture and something we consider in every decision we make and everything we do. We were the first commercial airport in the United States to receive the ISO 14001 certification covering all our operations. We boast the second-largest commercial airport solar power farm in the United States with five photovoltaic solar arrays with a combined production capacity of 18.5 million kilowatt hours per year. We feature 52 electric vehicle charging stations and 29 water bottle filling stations for our passengers and employees. Recycling is also a major focus for DEN. In 2018, we recycled more than 2,600 tonnes of materials, composted more than 300 tonnes and collected over 80 tonnes of surplus food to help feed families in need in our community. As a cold-weather airport, our centralised de-icing system enables us to protect the water quality of our community by collecting and recycling more than 70% of the de-icing fluid applied to aircraft. Additionally, DEN continues to invest in sustainable infrastructure. Our award-winning Westin Hotel and Transit Center, located just steps from our terminal, achieved the highest level of LEED Certification, LEED Platinum, making it DEN’s 4th LEED certified building constructed on-site in the last five years. Additionally, our Great Hall Redevelopment and concourse expansion projects are all on track to attain similar levels of achievement in sustainable design and construction. DEN practices every level of sustainability – financial, social and environmental.

What are the challenges and opportunities of partnering with the private sector?
To manage and complete the construction and ongoing concessions management of our Great Hall project, DEN partnered with Great Hall Partners, headed by Madrid-based Ferrovial. The public-private partnership (P3) made sense because DEN wanted to shift the risk of a multiphase construction project within a 24-7 operational facility to someone else, and we wanted to bring in a firm who would also help us to create a better passenger experience. Ferrovial did amazing things with London’s Heathrow T-2 and T-5. This partnership allows us to share project and financial risk, and to gain the benefit of Ferrovial’s experience. Of course, as with any partnership, there are challenges. Initially, city council members were concerned about partnering on such a massive project for such a lengthy term (four years of construction plus 30 years of operation and maintenance of the concessions component). Other problems included cultural barriers, and initial airline opposition to the cost, but we have worked through much of this and can’t wait for the end result!

What single aspect of your future planning are you most excited about?
Back in 1995, visionaries gave DEN the gift of 53 square miles of land – 16,000 acres of which we’ll never need for airport operations. That legacy allows DEN to expand from six to 12 runways – doubling in size – and develop infrastructure and land at incrementally lower costs than virtually any other large US airport. Our space is a tremendous advantage and an exciting prospect as we look to create a unique development around DEN. We’ve completed a strategic land use and development plan to help us plan for the development of future business communities for diverse business types within the unique Colorado environment. We envision five major development areas, including two transit-oriented developments at on-airport commuter rail stations, a research and development campus and two areas approaching our terminal. All these development areas will be interconnected by a mobility network and bicycle and pedestrian routes and will feature aircraft and wildlife viewing stations. DEN has an amazing future ahead!

Kim Day, CEO, Denver International Airport, will present ‘How DEN is shaping the future of airports’ at this year’s Passenger Terminal CONFERENCE, which takes place during Passenger Terminal EXPO, 26, 27 and 28 March 2019, in London. Register here for your delegate pass.


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With over 20 years experience in editorial management and content creation for multiple, market-leading titles at UKi Media & Events (publisher of Passenger Terminal World), one of the UK's fastest growing publishing companies, Anthony has written articles and news covering everything from aircraft, airports and cars, to cruise ships, trains, trucks and even tires!

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