Written by Miami Today on December 17, 2009
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BAGGAGE BUDGET: Miami-Dade commissioners Tuesday agreed to an up-to $46 million cost increase for the complex bag-handling system for Miami International Airport’s new north terminal, bringing its total price to $201.6 million, nearly twice the original budget. None was thrilled, but all except one agreed to the increase. Joe Martinez voted no, asking why north terminal tenant American Airlines can’t move instead into the south terminal, which didn’t materialize into a hub for United as once planned. He called it "another Miami Arena." The commissioners who approved the bag-system cost increase pressed for the county to seek as much reimbursement from American as possible.
SOPHISTICATED SYSTEM: The bag-system upgrades that account for the cost hike come as a result of federal and county requirements, as well as needs American identified in testing the complex automated system, Aviation Director José Abreu told commissioners, stressing its sophistication. Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, chair of the county’s Airport and Seaport Committee, attested to the bag system’s mass and the need to pay for the upgrades to keep airport development moving. "Even though I didn’t like it, we actually walked this baggage route at the airport…. It’s a huge sophisticated system over there, and I walked it a day when I had on the wrong shoes," he said. "Mr. Director [Abreu], I will never forgive you for that."
TAXING SLOTS: The Miami City Commission is to vote on proposed legislation today (12/17) allowing the city to levy fees for slot machine operations at establishments like the Flagler Dog Track, which is now allowed to have slot machines after voters approved the measure in 2008. The fees are to be $250 per machine, according to the legislation. The item was deferred at last week’s meeting.
FEWER STAYS: Miami-Dade’s overnight visitation fell 2.3% from 9.1 million to 8.9 million for the first three quarters of 2009, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. US overnight visitors were down 2.2%, international was down 2.5%.
BUT STILL FLYING: Miami International Airport ranked first in international passenger traffic on US airlines for the first three quarters of 2009. Data from the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics indicated MIA had 3.7 million international passengers through Sept. 30 — about 400,000 more than the second-place airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.