The latest sign that air travel remains scrambled by the pandemic: Denver International Airport’s passenger traffic ranked as the third-busiest in the world during the first half of 2021.
DIA recorded 24.7 million passengers taking off or landing between January and June, according to raw data collected by Airports Council International and analyzed by DIA staff. Only the Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth airports saw more passenger traffic during that period. After DIA, Chinese airports rounded out the top five.
Pre-pandemic, DIA ranked as the world’s 16th busiest airport and as fifth in the United States. This year, its rebound has outpaced that of most other major airports — in large part, airport officials have said, because of DIA’s strength as a domestic connecting hub for three airlines.
But business travel continues to lag, and international traffic — which plummeted last year because of many countries’ pandemic travel restrictions — has only started to recover.
DIA’s relatively fast recovery has brought pain for travelers, especially as they’ve had to navigate cumbersome construction walls in the terminal. Families and leisure travelers are passing through in large numbers, resulting in long security screening lines that extend past the airport’s baggage claims.
On recent weekends, the airport has struggled to keep parking available. DIA temporarily reopened the large Pikes Peak shuttle lot this past weekend, but its pandemic closure has lasted much longer than expected due to a contractor’s difficulty hiring enough drivers.
The air travel dynamics that favor DIA have reshuffled the world’s airport rankings. Large coastal airports that are hubs for international travel still are recovering more slowly, and major European airports have dropped entirely out of the top 10 rankings.
Chicago (6th) and Charlotte (8th) also ranked high during the first half of this year.
For 2020, ACI ranked DIA as the world’s eighth-busiest in terms of passenger traffic, even as the airport’s annual total of 33.7 million passengers was the lowest since 1996.
In 2019, before the pandemic took hold, DIA recorded a record 69 million passengers.
As the crush continues, DIA is advising passengers heading to DIA to arrive two hours before their flights’ boarding times — not departure times — to allow enough time to get through security, especially if they lack TSA PreCheck or another expedited screening pass.
The airport doesn’t provide live wait times on its website currently, but the Transportation Security Administration’s MyTSA phone app estimates waits for each airport hour to hour, based on recent activity. According to the app, DIA’s busiest times — when waits approach an hour or even longer — tend to be on Monday, Thursday and Friday mornings. And on Sundays, wait times spike from mid-morning through early afternoon and again in the early evening.
Source: Read Full Article