International travel up 5% through Miami International Airport
The number of international passengers traveling through Miami International Airport this year is nearly 5% ahead of the same period in 2017, most recent data from the Miami-Dade Aviation Department show.
Those international passengers are coveted in most areas of business, from real estate to retail sales, and in restaurants and hotels. Those who stay in Miami tend to stay longer and spend more per day.
The gain in total international passengers was nearly a quarter of a million persons in the first three months of this year, as more than 5.5 million international passengers have gone through the airport in those three months.
Throughout 2017, exactly 21,380,615 international passengers passed through Miami International Airport, a gain of 0.43% from the 2016 total.
Aviation officials see more on the way.
“Of particular significance is expanded service to Brazil – our top international market, as well as new service to Europe, the Caribbean and South America,” said Aviation Director Lester Sola. “MIA continues to be Florida’s busiest airport for international travelers, as well as America’s busiest for flights to Latin America and the Caribbean, and we look forward to expanding that role in 2018.”
The expansion is on the way. The airport announced last week that four airlines will begin new service to Miami International Airport in the second quarter, historically the start of the busiest summer travel season.
■LATAM Airlines was to begin a weekly flight to Salvador, Brazil, the airport’s ninth Brazilian destination, over the weekend.
■Bahamasair is to launch four weekly flights to Bimini, marking the airport’s seventh route to the Bahamas.
■Air Italy is to enter the Miami market with four weekly flights to Milan starting June 8.
■American Airlines is to begin weekly flights to Bonaire, Lesser Antilles, starting June 9.
Later this year, the airport said, Brazilian low-cost carrier GOL is to return to Miami International with daily flights to Brasilia and Fortaleza on Nov. 4, and American Airlines is to begin new service to Georgetown, Guyana, and Pereira, Colombia, in December.
Along with the gains in international passenger service through Miami International comes a gain of 1.79% this year in tons of international freight carried through the airport, totaling 492,264 tons through the first three months of the year. International freight grew 7.71% in March alone, airport statistics show.
While international flights through the airport are increasing, there is still plenty of room for passenger growth in the flights we now have. Nearly 1.3 million of the 6,819,661 seats on international flights passing through the airport in the first three months of this year were not filled with passengers, airport records show.
More of the international traffic through Miami International is arriving than departing: in March alone, 988,314 international flight passengers arrived here and 935,680 departed from Miami.
Those international passengers are important to the community. A Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau study of 2016 spending showed the added value to the community of international passengers. The international overnight visitor in that survey spent $132 daily on meals on average versus $120 for a domestic passenger; spent far more in shopping, $258 versus $90 for domestic overnight visitors; was 7% more likely to rent a car than a domestic passenger; and stayed an average of 6.9 days versus 5.2 days for a domestic overnight visitor.
That all adds up to a large spending gap. The domestic overnight visitor’s average bill here for everything was $1,207.66 for the stay, while the international visitor spent $2,062.35, the bureau’s study found.