United Airlines is moving into Denver with a property purchase and invitation-only event for Premier elites — but won’t commit to moving from Chicago to the “Mile High City.”
As a United Airlines hub, Denver International Airport (DEN) is one of the fastest growing hubs for the carrier. But has the airline planned even more for the Rocky Mountain State?
While the carrier now owns 114 acres of land near the airport, airline executives say they won’t be leaving Chicago any time soon.
Denver is poised for growth – but what kind?
In August 2023, Reuters reported United bought 113 acres of land near Denver International Airport for around $33 million. An airline spokesperson said the carrier plans to expand its pilot training center near the growing hub, as well as office space.
When asked if United might move its headquarters from Chicago to Denver, the spokesman deferred Reuters’ question, saying, “It is prudent for any large company to take advantage of opportunities to buy land in its key cities when the opportunity arises – so we didn’t. I want to miss this opportunity in Denver.
There is now more clarity around Denver – noted by Crain’s company in Chicago as Chicago’s 11th largest employer – in that it won’t be shifting its direction to Colorado anytime soon. Speaking at the TD Cowen Global Transportation conference in Boston, Crain executives refuted the idea despite there being more than 10,000 workers in the city.
“We have a long-term lease at Willis Tower. We’ve had a presence in Chicago for decades,” United CFO Gerald Laderman said at the conference, as quoted by Crain’s. “Denver is like Houston. We have many facilities in Houston.
As Laderman focused on expanding the airline’s pilot training center in Denver, he admitted the additional land could provide “other opportunities.”
These additional opportunities can be discussed at a special event for Premier Elite members who call Denver home. On the FlyerTalk Forums, travelers to Denver say they received an email from the airline inviting them to a “cocktail party” with United management. For entry, the airline charges 2,000 MileagePlus miles, which will be used to support World Central Kitchen.
The event appears to be limited to those with Premier status, including United Premier 1K, as at least one Gold member said they did not receive an invite.
What are United planning for Denver? Share your thoughts on the FlyerTalk Forums.