Miami International Airport has seen its international market wane
While Miami’s most popular international passenger markets continue to grapple with failing national economies, Miami International Airport has seen its international market wane. However, officials say, the difference isn’t too alarming, plus domestic and other international markets are softening the blow.
“Domestic passengers… lead the way because of a strong US dollar versus [international] struggling economies,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Department spokesman Greg Chin.
Last year, international passenger traffic was up 3% and domestic up 6%, he said. This year, domestic was up 5.9% through April and international up 1.7%.
“At the same time last year, both domestic and international were about neck and neck.”
“International is down this year because a lot of countries are struggling,” Mr. Chin said. “Domestic is just higher.”
In February, international passenger traffic rose 0.58% from February 2015, while domestic soared 8.12%.
“Mexico City and Cancun are our biggest destinations there. Mexico City is up 15% through the first quarter,” he said. “Mexico has always been one of our top markets and continues to do well.”
“Traditionally, Miami International Airport is the gateway to the Americas, and the bulk of traffic from Central and South America comes through here.”
“Cuba has grown substantially. It’s up 30% because of the lessened restrictions by the US government” Mr. Chin said, adding that “Cuba was growing even before that” and the new travel guidelines have only served to increase traffic even more.
The airport’s market profile for arrival traffic comparing first quarter of 2015 to first quarter of 2016 showed that flights from Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, dropped 62.27% and passenger arrivals dropped 57.23% while flights from Cuba’s largest city, Havana, increased 28.37% and passenger arrivals increased 26.21%.
“That growth from Cuba has offset the decrease from Brazil,” Mr. Chin said.
The Aviation Department’s most recent fiscal year-to-date report showed that from October 2015 through April 2016, the airport saw a combined international and domestic passenger increase of 6.34% compared to the same time frame the year before.
Mr. Chin also said that the airport is making a strong push for direct flights from Asia and is in ongoing discussions with Asian airlines.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when,” he said.
Scandinavian Airlines is to begin non-stop Miami-Copenhagen and Miami-Oslo service out of MIA beginning in September. Miami will be the airline’s only destination in the southeastern US.
Additionally, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced that it will begin three weekly flights from MIA to Amsterdam beginning Oct. 30.
“We’re trying to diversify our network and be the gateway of the world,” Mr. Chin said. “This is some fruits of our labor.”
The Scandinavian and KLM Royal Dutch news comes in the wake of recently started Eurowings direct service to Cologne – Germany’s fourth-largest city. The route marks MIA’s fifth German destination, along with Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.
The airport’s direct flights to Helsinki, serviced by Finnair, recently transitioned from seasonal to regular service.
“Compared year-over-year… [on the Helsinki route] we’re up 22%, 10,000 passengers, January through March,” Mr. Chin said.
“There is nothing but growth ahead for that,” he said. “That Finnair decided to move from seasonal to regular tells you how well service is doing. They don’t make those decisions lightly – numbers back it up.”
The airport, Mr. Chin said, is expecting “a strong summer and also a strong winter with more new service.”