DENVER (CBS) – Long security lines and parking shortages are still plaguing Denver International Airport. Now, the new boss says it is time to get things fixed.

Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington

(credit: CBS)

The new CEO Phil Washington isn’t blind to that fact that it takes a long time to catch a flight out of DIA. He says it is the third busiest airport in the world and the fastest recovering airport. He doesn’t expect it to slow down. He says, “I’m not sure where all these folks are coming from.”

The airport was designed to service 50 million people but is forecast to serve 72.8 million travelers in 2022. Plus, there is a staffing shortage, so it’s no wonder there have been long lines and parking shortages as of late.

(credit: CBS)

Washington says it’s a problem he intends to fix.

“I am in the terminal every day and I see the long lines,” Washington says. “We intend to make this better.”

He says one solution is building more security lanes — the goal being to open four more lanes by early 2022 and eventually growing to 42 security lanes from 28.

“There’s a catch-up element here of trying to build the infrastructure to accommodate the growth,” says Washington. “Doing nothing is not an option.”

As for the shortage of parking lot shuttle drivers, they are looking to hire non CDL drivers to drive smaller vehicles for the time being, then train them to operate larger shuttles. In addition, they want to work with schools to get young people into the airline industry.

DIA view from the parking garage

(credit: CBS)

Washington also says in the short term a big priority is keeping what they have up to par.

“It’s wonderful to have new projects, but the less sexy stuff like taking care and making sure elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks are working that is the most important thing.”

That means construction will continue at the airport to improve the traveler experience, but there will be some relief. They are taking down the walls from phase 1 of The Great Hall project Oct. 27 and the area will be open to the public in early November. In the meantime, Washington recommends people show up 2 hours before their flight especially as the upcoming holidays ramp up.

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Michael Abeyta