Denver International Airport marks passenger traffic record in 2023

View of Denver International Airport at dusk.
Photo Credit: Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport (DEN) has just released its full-year passenger and cargo traffic data for 2023, and the numbers are quite significant.

With 77,837,917 passengers served throughout the year, DEN experienced a substantial 12.3% year-on-year increase.

This also broke the previous record set in 2022, marking the first time in history that DEN has surpassed 70 million annual passengers.

Phil Washington, CEO of DEN, expressed pride in the airport’s achievements, attributing the success to strategic adjustments, technological investments, and forward-thinking initiatives.

Washington emphasized the significance of DEN’s Vision 100 strategic plan; outlining a roadmap for future decisions and accountability.

“It is incumbent upon us to ensure the airport’s infrastructure can continue to accommodate the growth we expect and that’s why our Vision 100 strategic plan is focused on preparing the airport to serve 100 million annual passengers and serves as a blueprint to align DEN’s decision-making and accountability,” he said.


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Photo Credit: Denver International Airport

Milestones and Records

Throughout 2023, Denver International Airport achieved numerous milestones and set new records in passenger traffic:

Monthly Records: Every month in 2023 set an all-time record in passenger traffic volume.

Busiest Months: July 2023 emerged as DEN’s busiest month ever, surpassing seven million passengers.

Additionally, October 2023 and August 2023 ranked as the second- and third-busiest months, respectively, each recording over seven million passengers. September 2023 and June 2023 rounded out the top five busiest months.

International Passenger Growth

Notably, 2023 marked Denver International’s first year exceeding four million annual international passengers, totaling 4,036,545—a significant 21.5% increase compared to 2022.

Monthly records were consistently broken, with July 2023 standing out as the first month to welcome over 400,000 international passengers.

Photo Credit: Denver International Airport

Carrier Performance

DEN’s largest carriers, United and Southwest, achieved record-breaking passenger numbers in 2023:

  • United: Served over 36 million passengers, claiming 46.8% of total market share.
  • Southwest: Captured 30.9% of total market share with an annual volume exceeding 24 million passengers.
  • Frontier: As DEN’s third-largest carrier, Frontier served more than 7.5 million passengers, representing 9.6% of total market share—an impressive achievement, marking the carrier’s highest volume since 2019.

Passenger Traffic Dynamics

While 2023 marked the busiest year ever for origination and destination (O&D) traffic at DEN, with a 0.1% increase over 2019, connecting passengers were the driving force behind the extraordinary 35.7% growth compared to 2019.

Cargo Volume Analysis

Despite a slight decrease of 5.9% compared to 2022, DEN’s total cargo volume in 2023 exceeded 680 million tons, showcasing a 1.4% increase compared to 2019. Notably, cargo volume on passenger carriers saw an 8.1% increase over 2022, while volume on all-cargo carriers experienced a decline of 10%.

Global Rankings

According to preliminary data from the Airports Council International (ACI) through October 2023, DEN secured its position as the third-busiest airport in the U.S. and the fifth-busiest airport worldwide.

Full-year data from ACI, expected this spring, will provide further insights into DEN’s global standing.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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