Miami International Airport weighs private deal for five-level cargo hub
Miami International Airport is in talks with a venture that wants to help double cargo capacity within three to five years by building a five-level cargo structure. CCR+Airis made the unsolicited proposal last year, aviation Communications Director Greg Chin confirmed to Miami Today.
The $1.1 billion privately funded project would rise on 29.4 acres in a ground lease with the airport for a cargo building in MIA’s western cargo area. “The facility is designed to optimize cargo operations on a restricted land area with new logistic technologies within a vertical platform,” the unsolicited proposal says.
The Aviation Department hasn’t decided what to do, Mr. Chin said told Miami Today by email. “We have only received the proposal and have not yet determined how we want to proceed,” he wrote.
The five-level project includes fully automated and mechanized cargo handling with smart truck docks, dock operations, cargo acceptance, intermediate automated storage and retrieval systems, robotic buildup/breakdown stations, an airside, administrative offices, employee childcare support and more.
The proposal plans 48-month construction and a “temporary building” strategy to complement construction phasing.
CCR Group is one of the world’s leading investors in transportation, aviation and mobility infrastructure, established in 1999. Airis International Holdings LLC is an aviation facility development company founded in 1994. They partnered to propose the Vertically Integrated Cargo Community.
Aviation Director Ralph Cutié told a county commission committee that MIA carried a record 2.3 million cargo tons last year and is on its way to surpass it this year. Expanding air cargo is one goal of the airport’s $5 billion Capital Improvement Program (CIP) drawn in 2019.
This month, Mr. Cutié told Miami Today that MIA is first among US airports in international freight and third in cargo, which includes freight and mail. “Also, worldwide, we’re ninth in international freight and ninth in total cargo, so we’re in the top 10 in the world,” he said.
As airlines’ cargo is expected to grow 7.9% this year from pre-covid 2019 totals and in 2022 demand will soar 13.2% above pre-pandemic levels, according to an International Air Transport Association estimate, commissioners are discussing how to improve the airport’s facilities.
Commissioner Jean Monestime told the committee meeting he was disturbed by the state of current infrastructure. Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Morales promised to report where aviation officials and outside experts are to share how to better handle cargo at MIA.
As part of the continued expansion and pressure to improve airport facilities, last week DHL announced it has invested $78 million to renovate and expand its facilities at the Miami Hub.
“I wonder how much more we could accomplish if it were more updated, if we were technology ready, if we had the right kind of infrastructure that we need,” Mr. Monestime said.
Cargo operations encompass 34.9% of MIA’s net operable land but represent only 6.6% of total airport revenue, says a letter from CCR and Airis. “This disparity presents a straightforward opportunity to dramatically increase the revenue per acre metric for MIA,” they wrote. “Current conditions and CIP planning cannot satisfy this demand.”