As American Airlines celebrate the 30th anniversary of our Miami Hub, we have proudly maintained our position as the leading airline in South Florida, the gateway to the Americas. Our domestic strength has helped us enhance our international network, and we continue to grow, compete and thrive in Latin America and the Caribbean where we have a long history and a bright future.
Our footprint continues to expand as we further strengthen our network with new routes, giving customers more travel options than ever before. In the past year we added Georgetown, Guyana and Pereira, Colombia to our network from Miami; we recently announced increased service to Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; and São Paolo, Brazil.
Having a thriving hub airport is of value not only for American Airlines, but, more important, for Miami-Dade County and South Florida. It means more flight options for local residents to see the world and more opportunities to welcome customers to visit and conduct business in our city.
When we established the hub in 1989, our Miami service consisted of just 19 flights a day to six destinations. Today, the Miami network is a starburst of domestic and international service with more than 350 flights a day to almost 130 destinations. Of those daily flights, 135 reach more than 70 cities across Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, our hub holds the distinction of having the largest cargo and international operation in the American Airlines system.
At Miami International Airport, the nation’s third largest for international traffic, American is the largest of the more than 100 carriers that serve MIA. and we offer the broadest network. We connect customers to and from MIA to cities throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. And, as we continue to grow, our operation has an increasing impact on the local economy.
Our schedule facilitates connecting customers on to domestic and international destinations, 85 of which only American serves from MIA.
Miami’s strategic geographic location makes it a natural gateway to the Americas. Our community has many historic and cultural connections with the Americas that draw people to this region, giving Miami a unique and enviable position that no other gateway can match. These were critical advantages when we established the Miami hub, which today is an important community asset and a powerful economic engine.
In 1989, we had 275 employees and carried about 2 million passengers to and from Miami. Today, American has more than 13,500 employees with a payroll exceeding $1.8 billion a year. Last year, we flew almost 30 million passengers to, from and through Miami. The hub now pumps more than $21 billion a year into South Florida’s economy and accounts for more than 160,000 jobs in ancillary businesses.
The economic impact of the hub cannot be underestimated. But there’s another key dynamic at work for the community: Our passengers come to live, work and play here. From vacations, to visiting family and friends, to business travelers attending meetings and conventions, as visitors flock here, they stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, take in the sights and are enthralled by the excitement of our culture. This community benefits long-term.
Our team members also are invested in the success of the region and show their commitment by giving back. Last year, they volunteered more than 30,000 hours to many community and charitable organizations that make Miami a better place.
We have grown up with the city of Miami, and our pride is ingrained in the DNA of every American Airlines employee at MIA. Our growth during the past three decades has been exponential. For that, we are thankful to our partners, supporters and customers. Our achievements have been the product of an extraordinary partnership with the community, whose leaders saw the potential for a Miami Hub years ago and shared their vision with commitment and single-minded purpose. And that is a reason to celebrate.
Juan Carlos Liscano is vice president of American Airlines’ Miami Hub operations.