United, Southwest, and Frontier have 88% of Denver’s capacity.

United Airlines Boeing 777 Front Profile Denver
Photo: Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport is the USA’s third-busiest airport by seats for sale in the first three months of 2023, the latest OAG data reveals. The airport has jumped by two places versus January-March 2020 (before coronavirus really took hold) and three places versus the same period in fully pre-pandemic 2019. It is now the world’s sixth-busiest airport by this metric, with only Atlanta, Dubai, Tokyo Haneda, London Heathrow, and Dallas Fort Worth above it.

United has almost half of the capacity

Denver has 10.7 million departing seats for sale in Q1 2023, according to OAG. That is the Colorado airport’s highest volume ever for those three months, exceeding its previous record for that quarter by a hefty 15%.

As everyone knows, United Airlines is Denver’s dominant airline. It has nearly 46% of the airport’s capacity, far from the 70% required to be deemed a fortress hub. It is not bigger at the airport mainly because of Southwest Airlines, to which Denver is fundamentally important. It is the carrier’s most-served airport by seats, ahead of Chicago Midway. While Southwest has never had as many as 3.4 million Q1 seats before, it has exceeded that level in recent summer quarters.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737

Photo: Denver International Airport

Denver’s top five airlines

Q1 2023 departing seats for sale (% of Denver’s total)

Q1 2020 seats (%)

Q1 2023 routes


4.9 million (46%)

4.3 million (47%)



3.4 million (32%)

2.6 million (28%)



1.1 million (10%)

937,000 (10%)



513,000 (5%)

484,000 (5%)



392,000 (4%)

407,000 (4%)


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90% of United’s routes are domestic

United has 168 Denver routes between January and March. They include Butte (started January 5th, 2022) and Munich (April 23rd, 2022). Of these 168, 151 (90%) are domestic, involving 44 states. Obviously, California has more seats for sale than any other state: 1 in 7 domestic seats is to that state. California is followed by Texas, Florida, wider Colorado, Illinois, Montana, Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, and New Jersey.

Click here for Denver-Los Angeles flights.

United serves 16 airports in California from Denver, with Bakersfield, Bishop/Mammoth, Burbank, Eureka, Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Ontario, Orange County, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara all linked. United’s next most-served states by network in Q1 are wider Colorado, Florida, and Wyoming, each with nine airports.

Click here for Denver-Orlando flights.

United has flights to the Wyoming destinations of Casper, Cheyenne, Cody, Gillette, Jackson Hole, Laramie, Riverton, Rock Springs, and Sheridan. Despite that broad network, Wyoming ranks 13th for Denver seats for sale. While it has 15 to 21 daily flights to the state, they’re mainly by single-class, 50-seat CRJ-200s and Embraer 145s, pushing down the total capacity.

United's domestic network from Denver in Q1 2023
(United’s domestic network in Q1 2023.)

Image: GCMap.

United’s domestic cuts

All airlines end routes, including from important hubs. It may be because they’re insufficiently profitable, not making a big enough contribution to connectivity, or are served well enough, versus demand and competitors, from one of its other hubs. As always, it must be considered against alternative uses of aircraft.

United at Denver is no exception. Examining schedules using OAG data since 2004 shows that it has removed 26 domestic routes, based on those with at least 50 flights. Several of the 26 materialized during the pandemic and ended quite quickly.

No longer does United serve these US airports from Denver: Alamosa, Butte (didn’t last long), Chicago Midway, Columbia (Missouri), Dallas Love, Dayton, Destin Fort Walton Beach, Everett, Fairbanks, Flagstaff, Fort Dodge, Grand Forks, Kearney, Lafayette, Mammoth Lakes, Oakland, Pierre, Peoria, Rochester (Minnesota), Rockford, Santa Rosa, Twin Falls, Watertown, West Palm Beach, Williston, and Yellowstone. United has ceased serving some of these airports altogether.

Will you be flying to/from Denver soon? If so, let us know in the comments.

  • Denver international conspiracy theories

    Denver International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    United States

    Phillip A. Washington

    Passenger Count :
    58,828,552 (2021)

    Runways :
    7/25 – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |8/26 – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |16L/34R – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |16R/34L – 4,877m (16,000 ft) |17L/35R – 3,658m (12,000 ft) |17R/35L – 3,658m (12,000 ft)

Source: simpleflying.com

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