DIA slips from 11th to 13th on busiest airports list as Dreamliner dream team heads to Japan

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"This new nonstop flight will be a gateway into Colorado for Japan and other Asian countries," said Governor John Hickenlooper at yesterday's send-off for the inaugural United flight direct from Denver International Airport to Japan. And then, after a sake toast, a dream team of Denver boosters (who's running the city this week?) boarded the Dreamliner and headed off on a trade and tourism mission to Tokyo, leaving from DIA, the eleventh busiest airport in the world. Oops, make that thirteenth.


Just four days earlier, at the opening of the Elway's restaurant at DIA, Mayor Michael Hancock, who's leading the almost-seventy-member delegation to Japan, had delivered the glowing statistics on the airport: 53 million passengers passing through in 2012, the fifth busiest airport in the U.S, the 11th busiest in the world. And those stats have been repeated in numerous stories about DIA.

But DIA's status recently hit some turbulence, and has actually dropped to the 13th busiest airport in the world -- ironically, because of travel growth in Asia! According to DIA spokeswoman Stacey Stegman, the information is still preliminary; the numbers will be final in July.

But already the change has been made in DIA's official announcements. Just a month ago, the airport was still touting its 11th-busiest title in official announcements. Here's the updated description it switched to in June:

Denver International Airport is the 13th-busiest airport in the world and the fifth-busiest airport in the United States. With more than 50 million passengers traveling through the airport each year, DIA is one of the busiest airline hubs in the world's largest aviation market. DIA is the primary economic engine of the state of Colorado, generating more than $22 billion for the region annually.

By the way, Hickenlooper -- who would go to the opening of an envelope when he was mayor -- skipped the Dreamliner trip.

More from the Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "John Elway and Michael Hancock showering together and other tales from Elway's DIA."

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