Skiers may land too far afield at Denver airport

March 06, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Whatever else can be said of the behind-schedule, over-budget, far-flung new Denver International Airport, it will surely make life easier for some travelers. But for skiers headed west to the ski slopes, the $3.2 billion airport will not be so convenient.

DIA, the first major airport to be built from scratch in the United States since Dallas-Fort Worth 20 years ago, is set to open May 15, eight months late and more than $1 billion over initial cost estimates.

The new facility is situated 23 miles northeast of downtown Denver, about 20 miles farther northeast of the city than Stapleton Airport. It will mean an extra 30 to 40 minutes for the drive to Vail and Aspen.

But officials here say the 53-square-mile airport, about six times bigger than Stapleton, will sharply reduce delays. The new airport can safely handle three simultaneous landings, or 99 arrivals an hour, in bad weather, compared with a maximum of 25 an hour at Stapleton.

Bill Siegel, the president of a tourism research organization, said he expected the new airport's greater distance from the slopes to provoke some grumbling. "Skiers are paying a lot of money for one thing -- to get up to the mountains as fast as they can."

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