The Second-Largest Airport in the World Opens Its Runways

February 28, 1995

Denver International Airport, which is located approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the downtown section of Colorado’s state capital, officially opened for business. This facility debuted the day after its predecessor, Stapleton International Airport in the northeastern part of Denver, ceased operations after more than 65 years of service.

The inaugural festivities for Denver International Airport took place just before daybreak on a Tuesday morning, with Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and U.S. Transportation Secretary (and former Denver mayor) Federico F. Peña jointly cutting a ribbon at Gate 38 of the new facility. “Not since the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport opened 21 years ago had a major new airport been opened in the United States,” reported the next day’s edition of the New York Times. “And never, said aviation experts, had a more technologically advanced terminal and set of runways been opened.” The first flight to depart from the new airport was United Airlines Flight 1062, which pushed back from Gate 38 at 6:00 a.m. on February 28 for a trip to Kansas City.

Denver International Airport, which covers 33,531 acres (13, 570 hectares) altogether, is the largest airport by area in North America and the second largest in the world. Denver International Airport’s Runway 16R/34L, measuring 16,000 feet (4,877 meters) in length, is the longest public-use runway in North America and the seventh longest in the world. Denver International Airport also has the distinction of being the fifth busiest airport in the United States and the 20th busiest worldwide.

For more information on Denver International Airport, please check out

The souvenir guide for the airport’s opening is available at

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