March

The city of Denver announced that the launch date for DIA would be pushed back to December 18 rather than the original October 30 date in order to install and test all of the new equipment. The city wanted to delay the opening until late in the first quarter of 1994 but deemed it too costly because the airport's debt would have to be paid without an adequate stream of revenue. The interest on the bond debt was now at $500,000 per day.

The delay to December 18 angered the cargo carriers. This would be their busiest time of the year, usually twice their normal cargo levels, and a complete revamping of their delivery service would be needed. The Washington-based Air Freight Association urged the city to allow the cargo carriers to fly out of Stapleton through the holiday period.

By March 1993, Federal Express, Airborne Express, and UPS (reluctantly) had agreed to house operations at DIA after the city pledged to build facilities for them at the south end of the airport. Negotiations were also underway with Emery Worldwide and Burlington Air Express. The "belly" carriers, Continental and United, had already signed on.

UPS had wanted to create a hub at Front Range Airport. If Front Range Airport were a cargo-only facility, it would free up UPS from competing with passenger traffic for runway access even though both Front Range and DIA were in the same air traffic control pattern. UPS stated that it would not locate a regional hub at DIA. This would mean the loss of a major development project that would have attracted other businesses that relied on UPS delivery.

For UPS to build a regional hub at Front Range would have required the construction of a control tower and enlargement of the runways, both requiring federal funds. The FAA refused to free up funds for Front Range largely due to a lawsuit by United Airlines and environmental groups.

United's lawsuit had an ulterior motive. Adams County officials repeatedly stated that they had no intention of building passenger terminals at Front Range. However, once federal funds were given to Front Range, a commercial passenger plane could not be prevented from setting up shop in Front Range. The threat to United was the low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines. Because costs were fixed, fewer passengers traveling through DIA meant less profits for the airlines. United simply did not want any airline activities removed from DIA!

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