Miami International Airport has long been Miami-Dade County’s No. 1 economic engine. As a public enterprise fund, MIA generates nearly $33 billion in positive economic impact for our community, supports one out of every four local jobs and drives commerce and trade at no cost to local taxpayers.
It’s a distinction that our airport family is especially proud of and one that holds more weight than ever before since 2013 saw our global gateway shatter records, improve service and significantly expand its international reach. MIA also has firmly established itself as an economic impact leader for the state of Florida as well, outpacing Disney World and the cruise industry in that critical metric.
Nearly 70 percent of Florida’s total international passenger traffic flies through MIA, and the airport continues to serve more international passengers than all other U.S. airports with the lone exception of New York’s JFK. Statistically, the Gateway of the Americas had its best year ever in 2013, reaching the 40-million annual passenger mark for the first time — the equivalent of the combined populations of Florida and New York.
On the cargo side, MIA continues to be America’s No. 1 airport for international freight and ranks ninth in the world. Our latest statistics show that MIA’s air trade accounts for 97 percent of the dollar value of Florida’s total air imports and 44 percent of Florida’s total air and sea trade with the world.
While numbers and statistics are one way to measure our success, MIA’s first commitment is to the people behind those figures. In 2013, we placed a renewed focus on customer service, beginning with an aggressive plan to modernize our badly outmoded local taxicab industry. I remain convinced that visitors to our world-class community deserve nothing less than world-class treatment from touchdown to departure.
Direct communication with our customers is also of vital importance, and the recent launch of MIA’s award-winning social media channels has been quickly embraced by many of travelers. Technology is also paving the way to shorter wait times for international arrivals at MIA. The November launch of automated passport control kiosks in our North Terminal is already paying dividends for travelers at America’s second-busiest port of entry. They have enjoyed shorter average wait times and a smoother overall entry process.
A hard-earned $101 million grant from the TSA for a new baggage handling system ensures that passengers’ luggage will continue to be quickly and smoothly screened, as well.
Last year also saw the addition of seven new international routes, giving MIA an even broader global network. Our patrons can now enjoy direct access to key destinations, including Calgary, Cozumel, Milan, and Porto Alegre and Curitiba in Brazil, site of this year’s World Cup. On the eve of that worldwide sports event, MIA is positioned to be the leading gateway for fans of the jogo bonito from across the world, boasting more Brazilian destinations than any other U.S. airport — a total of 10 beginning next month.
MIA’s global reach will further expand in 2014 with new service to Belem, Brazil; Brussels, Belgium; and Doha, Qatar. These destinations represent exciting new travel options for our customers. They also represent new jobs for Miami-Dade County residents, additional visitors and tax revenue to our community and state and fresh opportunities for international trade and commerce. Furthermore, we continue to aggressively court air carriers around the world to strategically extend our far-reaching route network.
With the support of Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Board of County Commissioners, MIA stands poised to build upon last year’s achievements. The MIA family greets 2014 with a renewed focus on our proven formula for success and a strong commitment to powering the economy forward. Even greater things are in store for this leading state and community asset.
Emilio T. González, Miami-Dade aviation director, Miami