WITH ITS PROXIMITY to some of the most beautiful beaches and tourist destinations in the United States and Latin America, Miami International Airport is one of the country’s largest hubs, ranking 10th-busiest airport in the United States and busiest in Florida by annual passenger count.
Located only eight miles from downtown Miami, MIA is South Florida’s main airport for long-haul international flights and one of only eight U.S. airports to accommodate the Airbus A380 jet.
The airport currently services 109 airlines, with American Airlines accounting for 50 percent of the airport’s growth. It also serves as a focus airport for Avianca, Frontier Airlines and LATAM as the gateway to Latin America.
MIA experienced a record-breaking year in 2016. The airport served nearly 44.6 million travelers, an increase of 234,000 from 2015. Despite a large downturn in travel between MIA and top South American markets due to struggling economies and the presence of Zika in South Florida, the global gateway’s annual passenger traffic still increased by 0.53 percent.
Also in 2016, J.D. Power and Associates ranked the airport fifth among large airports in the North America Airport Satisfaction Study — its highest ranking ever, up from 18th place in the 2015 study.
This looks to be another successful year for the South Florida airport despite a bumpy start with a couple of safety threats and an altercation with pop star Jason Derulo.
The airport welcomed six new passenger airlines and four allcargo carriers in 2016, and five airlines will launch new service in 2017. Three new airlines began serving MIA in February: Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris will offer service to Guadalajara (GDL) four times a week and Mexico City (MEX) daily, Qatar Airways Cargo began two weekly freighter flights, and Canadian airline First Air began charter passenger flights from Ontario (ONT). In April low-cost trans-Atlantic airline WOW Air launched three-times-weekly service to Reykjavík (KEF), and in September Aer Lingus will launch three weekly flights to Dublin (DUB).
In March the Airports Council International-North America awarded the airport with the 2017 Environmental Achievement Award in the Environmental Management category for its Sustainability Project. Launched in August 2015 in partnership with Florida Power & Light Services, the project includes $32 million worth of air-conditioning and ventilation upgrades, water conservation retrofits, energy-efficient lighting and other innovative solutions that will save the airport more than 35 million kilowatts of power per year and $40 million in utility costs over the 14-year contract period with FPLS. The project is reducing carbon emissions at the airport by the equivalent of 5,110 cars and water consumption equal to 28 million gallons of water.
The Miami-Dade Aviation Department also announced in March it is moving forward with a multiphase Cargo Optimization, Redevelopment and Expansion program that will optimize MIA’s usable cargo space. The initial phase will increase taxiway, ramp and aircraft parking space in the cargo area.
In 2015 airport officials disclosed details about their plan to refurbish the aging Central Terminal, while some officials want the building demolished and replaced. The airport embarked on a three-year, $651 million renovation it believes is necessary to keep pace with unexpectedly high growth. However, the airport also has long-term plans to demolish and replace the Central Terminal beginning in 2025.
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