Denver International Airport officials’ travel costs for 2010 are expected to be up from last year at a time when travel expenses at other city agencies are falling.
Travel costs were almost $384,000 as of Friday, representing an increase of 43 percent from last year, according to The Denver Post.
Aviation manager Kim Day said the costs are necessary to market the airport and lure new flights and growth.
Since 2008, Germany’s Lufthansa has announced it was ending its nonstop flight from Denver to Munich, but airport officials say they have attracted new domestic routes. The airport is on pace to post record passenger traffic this year.
Overall, travel expenses by DIA officials grew nearly 17 percent in 2008 to $533,123. They fell to $267,835 in 2009 as the economy faltered before rebounding this year, The Post reported.
At other city agencies, travel costs fell by more than 60 percent this year in the district attorney’s office, more than 50 percent at the office of economic development and more than 70 percent at the mayor’s office.
Sally Covington, DIA’s deputy manager of public relations and marketing, said airport travel costs are paid by revenues the airport generates.
Despite the increase in travel costs this year, spending for executive travel is less than it was the year before Day arrived in 2008. Last year, the airport’s travel expenses included nearly $7,000 for a trip that Day and two other executives took to Athens, Greece, for the Airport Cities Conference.
Insight Media Limited of London paid for Day’s flights and lodging. Day said she learned near the eve of the conference that she was a scheduled speaker and didn’t want to bill the airport for the expense of the trip.
A day before the conference began, DIA signed a no-bid, $370,000 contract with Insight to manage the conference when it comes to Denver in 2012, The Post reported.
Day said she checked with Denver Board of Ethics Director Michael Henry to make sure there was no conflict of interest before taking the trip.
Henry’s notes, however, showed the discussion revolved only around her attendance at a professional conference, not whether a private contractor engaged in business with the airport could pay for the trip.
The city’s code of ethics prohibits Day from accepting travel from a contractor she manages or approves.
“All I can tell you is that the Board of Ethics did not get a request for an official opinion, and if we had, we would have investigated all of the details and all of the relationships and all of the timing,” Henry said.
Airport officials said Insight historically has managed the Airport Cities Conference and that other contractors never were in the running to manage the conference in Denver.