Denver International Airport looks at nonstop service to Panama

DENVER - After securing a nonstop flight between Denver and Tokyo, Japan, airport leaders now have their sights on Panama City, Panama.   Nonstop service between the two cities could generate more than $72 million annually for the state, said airport spokeswoman Stacey Stegman.

Currently, approximately 10,000 people travel annually between the two cities.  Stegman says nonstop service could double passenger loads.

Panama City is seen as a gateway to Latin America with substantial economic opportunities, said Stegman.   Several Colorado companies have a strong business presence in the region.  Englewood based CH2M Hill and Broomfield based MWH Global both have offices near the Panama Canal.  Both engineering firms are involved in development projects.

"To give us that opportunity to give access to Denver from project locations in Latin America specifically, it would be a huge benefit to us and our clients," said Meg VanderLaan, a vice president with MWH Global.

In late May, Governor Hickenlooper and business leaders made a trip to the region in an effort to secure the flight.  Several Star Alliance carriers have expressed interest in the nonstop route.

International development is a big priority for the airport, said Stegman.  With nonstop flights to Europe and Asia, an expanded South American presence is a logical step, she said.

DIA already offers seasonal non-stop service to two airports in neighboring Costa Rica, via Frontier Airlines.

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