Move Over Tokyo, Denver Has A New Longest Flight

Skift Take

This latest long-haul announcement reaffirms the incredible rise of Denver as a global aviation hub.

Travelers from the Mile High City will be clocking up the miles with Denver’s newest long-haul service. 

On Thursday, it was confirmed that the Colorado capital will have a new longest route – and it’s a biggie. Starting June 11, Turkish Airlines will fly from its Istanbul home and hub to Denver. 

The point-to-point distance between the two cities is more than 5,300 nautical miles. Flight times will be up to 12.5 hours and see the aircraft typically track north towards Canada’s Hudson Bay, over Greenland and Iceland, before flying south through Scandinavia and into southern Europe.

Denver to Tokyo’s Narita Airport is currently the longest passenger route from Colorado. The distance between the two cities is just over 5,000 nautical miles, with journey times of up to 12 hours. The transpacific service is operated by United Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The new Turkish route will initially be served three-times weekly. A fourth weekly link is due to be added in July. The Airbus A350-900 is expected to operate the majority of the flights.

Colorado-Based Clues?

While notable, the addition of Denver to the Turkish route map is not a complete surprise. 

The city had previously been cited as a target for expansion in the airline’s investor presentations. There have also been Denver-based job openings for Turkish Airlines cargo representatives and airport agents on LinkedIn over recent weeks. 

Denver is strategically important for United Airlines. It has been the carrier’s fastest-growing U.S. airport since 2019 and shows no sign of slowing down. This gives Turkish Airlines’ partnership with United through the Star Alliance additional significance as it allows easier transit connections and joint ticketing options.

Boosting the pool of passengers able to be channeled through Denver should increase the popularity, and ultimately the profitability, of the new long-haul route. 

Denver Makes Global Top Ten

United’s rapid expansion in the Colorado capital has helped the airport soar through the global rankings. 

A recent analysis of Cirium Diio data by Airline Weekly shows Denver is due to be the seventh busiest airport globally in Q2 2024, based on scheduled seats. This puts the U.S. hub comfortably ahead of Shanghai, Paris, Delhi, and even New York JFK. 

Separate Cirium Diio data found that Istanbul’s airline market is double the size it was a decade ago. London is just 18% larger, while Tokyo actually had fewer seats in 2023 than in 2013. However, a recent surge in traffic to Japan is likely to boost its numbers for 2024. 

For its part, Turkish Airlines already serves 13 U.S. destinations from coast to coast. Denver joins secondary cities including Houston, Seattle, and Detroit that are on the Istanbul departure board. 

Airlines Sector Stock Index Performance Year-to-Date

What am I looking at? The performance of airline sector stocks within the ST200. The index includes companies publicly traded across global markets including network carriers, low-cost carriers, and other related companies.

The Skift Travel 200 (ST200) combines the financial performance of nearly 200 travel companies worth more than a trillion dollars into a single number. See more airlines sector financial performance. 

Read the full methodology behind the Skift Travel 200.

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