DIA asks Denver City Council permission to break into its piggy bank

It costs DIA $1.2 million each day just to stay open. We found out the airport has a big emergency piggy bank.

DENVER - It costs $1.2 million each day to keep Denver International Airport running. That's not counting any of the flights, just the operations of the airport itself.

Next found out that the airport also has an emergency piggy bank with enough money to keep the lights on for 800 days. DIA wants to break into the piggy bank and keep enough for 500 days.

The airport is funded through fees, not taxpayer money from the city's general fund. However, city council still has to give DIA permission to use its own checkbook.

At a council committee meeting on Tuesday, DIA asked permission to access an extra $150 million from its reserves.

An airport spokesman said that DIA originally had saved enough funds for 800 days of operation during a time when airlines like Frontier were struggling. Those concerns aren't the same in 2017, so the airport wants use money it currently has for improvements, without needing to borrow more money.

Right now, DIA owes $3.8 billion on its bonds for the construction of the airport and the Westin Hotel. The projects covered by the $150 million include new concrete for the areas where the planes park at the gates and new concrete for Runway 8-26.

At the council committee meeting, councilman Kevin Flynn asked a question you're probably thinking: why does concrete need to be replaced after only 20 years?

"The ramp panels that the aircraft park at when they approach a gate, those are the panels we're talking about. They receive significantly more wear and tear because of the activity that goes on there; fueling and any of the reloading of the aircraft. It's a different type of wear and tear on those panels than what you see out on a taxiway or a runway," said DIA Chief Financial Officer Gisela Shanahan.

The council committee did not have enough members present to move this forward, so DIA still needs to wait for its allowance.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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