Centennial consistently ranks the second busiest airport in the nation among airports that are not certified for airline services, and in the top 25 of all airports, including LAX, Chicago’s O’Hare and New York’s La Guardia.And yet it's so quiet here. I used to live in Millbrae, across the freeway from San Francisco International Airport. You get used to the noise, but there is definitely noise.
What economic benefit does Centennial provide? Just look at the Denver Tech Center and the area surrounding the airport. It is alive with commercial, industrial and retail development that is interdependent upon the airport. A 2003 economic impact study performed by the Colorado Division of Aeronautics indicated that Centennial Airport has a $815 million impact on the local and Colorado economy. The Airport's payroll alone is $95 million annually, which generates $239 million in direct economic activity. The study also found that Centennial ranks second behind Denver International Airport in creation of airport jobs in the state. In fact, nearly 1,900 people are employed in the Centennial Airport area. If Centennial Airport were a single employer, it would ranks as the 7th largest employer in the region right behind ATT/Comcast, Great West Life, JD Edwards, First Data, EchoStar and Quest. The airport is home to a number of Colorado's largest companies and generates a significant amount of business traffic for Denver and Colorado. The airport is used by 32 of the top 100, and seven of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies.
Here's what I don't quite get about the airport, though. It is not a private airport, as it is too prohibitively expensive for a private entity to own and maintain an airport. It exists as a public utility to serve the public...not necessarily only the public which owns their own airplanes, but the general public in keeping air traffic down at DIA. Yet it is not required to offer scheduled commercial flights. In 2003, as part of legislation which Tom Tancredo co-sponsored, President Bush signed a law allowing reliever airports like Centennial to be essentially private airports which receive federal funds for maintenance.