United Airlines and Denver International Airport have agreed to a 10-year lease extension at the airline’s Rocky Mountain hub.
When Denver International Airport (DEN) first opened its doors in February of 1995, United was the only carrier to sign a long-term lease with the airport. That 30-year lease was set to expire in 2025. The new agreement, which was announced Tuesday, guarantees DEN status as a United hub through 2035. United is Denver’s largest airline by passengers carried, and it operates more than 375 flights from DEN daily.
Since United’s merger with Continental Airlines in 2012, the carrier has been evaluating its hub system. Earlier this year, United announced that Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport (CLE), a major Continental hub, would no longer serve as a hub for the merged airline.
The lease extension at DEN has airport officials breathing a sigh of relief. “This is the latest initiative in a series that is focused on long-term stability and growth of our airport and United Airlines, a great partner, has demonstrated its support of Denver and our community by executing this lease extension,” DEN CEO Kim Day said in a statement issued alongside the extension’s announcement.
The restructured lease is expected to save United approximately $35 million per year by reducing the airline’s obligation to maintain non-gate facilities at DEN and by reducing or eliminating penalties the airline pays for not meeting passenger traffic goals at the airport.
The lease agreement between DEN and United still requires final approval from the Denver City Council and Mayor Michael B. Hancock.