Denver flying high over new runway

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romising travelers and airlines shorter aircraft turnaround times, less time on taxiways and better performance in bad weather, Denver Airport opened a sixth runway Sept. 4 that is 4,000 feet longer than its other five.

Denver also is hoping to attract more international service with the 16,000-foot-long, 200-foot-wide runway, touted by the airport as the largest commercial runway in North America.

The airport said the extra distance will give fully loaded jumbo jets additional room to take off in Denver's altitude during the summer months, providing "unrestricted global access" for any airline.

The runway also will be able to accommodate the Airbus A-380, which is being designed to carry more than 500 passengers.

The runway cost $166 million to build, with 74% of the funding coming from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Denver said the sixth runway should improve performance during bad weather by enabling the airport to land three aircraft simultaneously on its existing north-south runways while using the new one for departures.

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That's 266 and counting, as in the number of airports where travelers must show a boarding pass and a government-issued photo ID to pass through security checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration on Sept. 8 added Spokane (Wash.) Airport to the growing list.

That means electronic-ticket receipts, itineraries and vouchers no longer will provide access at Spokane.

The Selectee Checkpoint program was introduced to reduce additional searches at the gates. TSA is planning to implement the program at all airports by Jan. 1.

For a list of airports participating, go to the TSA's Web site at www.tsa.gov.

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It's eight and counting for Southwest Florida Airport in Fort Myers, as in eight consecutive record-setting months for airport traffic.

Nearly 388,000 passengers traveled through the airport in July -- 18.3% more than the previous July -- making it the busiest July in the airport's 20-year history.

For the year through July, the number of passengers has increased by 13%. Significantly, the total also was 4.6% higher than July 2001, indicating a return to pre-9/11 traffic levels.

Robert Ball, executive director of the Lee County Port Authority, said the strong summer traffic may be a result of pent-up demand for vacation travel.

The increase bodes well for the airport's expansion plans. Construction began in February 2002 on a 28-gate Midfield Terminal that will replace the existing 17-gate terminal when it opens in 2005.

AirportParkingReservations.com marked its second year of operation this month by introducing a toll-free call center service, Mondays through Fridays, at (888) 960-PARK.

The service offers guaranteed off-airport parking reservations for travel departing from U.S. and Canadian airports. Most of the parking lots offer complimentary luggage assistance and free shuttle buses to and from the terminals.

The service also recently introduced car-care services for some locations. Under that option, customers can have an oil change and other maintenance or cleanup work done on their cars while they are away.

To contact reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to [email protected].

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