Miami air freight takes double-digit hit, cargo shipping up
By Scott E. Pacheco
and Zachary S. Fagenson
Miami International Airport's cargo business plunged 24.5% in January and February.
But the Port of Miami expects to report growth of up to 5% for the period, says Kevin Lynskey, business initiatives manager.
"We're pleasantly surprised with our numbers," he said
The air freight decline includes a 23.9% drop in international business. The biggest hits came from Latin America and Asia, though Europe has remained steady, said Marc Henderson, spokesman for Miami-Dade Aviation.
"The situation is not conditional to MIA, it is reflective of the global [economic] situation," he said via e-mail.
The Caribbean and South America have been the seaport's strongest partners, with carrier Seaboard Marine accounting for about 40% of its business, Mr. Lynskey said, adding that carrier APL helped to boost cargo levels with its recent return to Miami from Port Everglades.
Overall airport January losses were 22%and February 27%, while international business fell 21.4% and 26.4%, Mr. Henderson said.
Joe Smith, vice president of the Florida Foreign Trade Association, said the economy may not be the only factor at play here.
"A lot of people have overlooked the fact that the longer-range jet aircraft today are bypassing Miami and going directly to their destination," he said. "Every one of these airlines are looking to go directly to a point without going through a midway point. It cuts out dealing with another government."
In 2008, international cargo at MIA fell 4% while total cargo dropped 6%. Despite this, Miami was still tops in the US as Los Angeles International and John F. Kennedy International in New York both had 12% declines.
Some relief may come from Cathay Pacific Airways' new thrice-weekly freighter service to Miami from Hong Kong.