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Harvard Business School 9-396-311 Rev. November 6, 1996 BAE Automated Systems (A): Denver International Airport Baggage-Handling System No airport anywhere in the world is as technologically advanced as the Denver International Airport.1 It’s dramatic. If your bag [got] on the track, your bag [was] in pieces.2 In November 1989 ground was broken to build the Denver International Airport (DIA). Located 25 miles from downtown Denver, Colorado, it was the first major airport to be built in the United States since the opening of the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in 1974. In 1992, two years into construction, the project’s top managers recommended inclusion of an airport-wide integrated baggage-handling system that could dramatically improve…show more content…
Its operational capacity was severely limited by runway layout; Stapleton had two parallel north-south runways and two additional parallel east-west runways that accommodated only commuter air carriers. Denver’s economy grew and expanded greatly in the early 1980s, consequent to booms in the oil, real estate, and tourism industries. An aging and saturated Stapleton Airport was increasingly seen as a liability that limited the attractiveness of the region to the many businesses that were flocking to it. Delays had become chronic. Neither the north-south nor east-west parallel runways had sufficient lateral separation to accommodate simultaneous parallel arrival streams during poor weather conditions when instrument flight rules were in effect. This lack of runway separation and the layout of Stapleton’s taxiways tended to cause delays during high-traffic periods, even when weather conditions were good. Denver’s geographic location and the growing size of its population and commerce made it an attractive location for airline hubbing operations. At one point, Stapleton had housed four airline hubs, more than any other airport in the United States. In poor weather and during periods of hightraffic volume, however, its limitations disrupted connection schedules that were important to maintaining these operations. A local storm could easily congest air traffic across the entire United States.3 3According to James Barnes [1993], “By 1994, Stapleton was one of the top five
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