It'll be far more expensive for airlines to operate at Denver's new airport than at other airports in the West - which puts the Denver hub at a new disadvantage. To recoup the higher charges, airlines are likely to raise fares on any flight that touches Denver.
Like apples to oranges, comparing
one airport to another is tricky, because airports use different
bookkeeping methods - certain fuel charges may be figured
separately, for instance. But Denver's mega-airport is like a
one-ton orange; the disparity goes beyond
Airlines using Denver International
Airport this year will be charged at least $18.50 per passenger (a
steep hike from the $6.50 they're paying at Denver's old airport,
At Las Vegas' glitzy airport the
charge is about $6 per passenger. Airports at Colorado Springs,
Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth - the latter a national hub that
competes with Denver for the long-haul connecting flyer - range
from $5.85 to $4.
Salt Lake International will be
a real bargain, charging airlines about $3 per passenger. Sam
Saeva, finance director at Salt Lake's airport, says
matter-of-factly, "It's very cheap to operate here."
The philosphical difference between the two
cities, Denver and Salt Lake, shows in the airports. Both have
faced record growth in traffic (Denver eight years ago, Salt Lake
today); Denver exercised its mega-ambition, while Salt Lake
exercised Mormon-style frugality and merely expanded its old
airport with another runway.
"Utah is noted for
being a fiscally conservative state," says Buzz Hunt, marketing
director at the Salt Lake airport. "The predominant view is that we
do things incrementally, in the most cost-effective way." Saeva
agrees, "We don't waste anything. The staff talks about it, in the
manner of, we don't tear up that piece of concrete if we can fix it
one more time."