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Front Page » Top Stories » Airport Directors Regularly Meet At Power Lunch Powwows

Airport Directors Regularly Meet At Power Lunch Powwows

Written by on August 31, 2000

By Candice Ventra
Airport directors for three South Florida counties are hoping to increase regional awareness in the aviation industry through regular meetings.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach aviation chiefs have been meeting over noon meals to share ideas and discuss needs at the region’s three major airports — Miami International, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Palm Beach International.

"We have lunch together and share common problems and issues," said Gary Dellapa, aviation director for Miami-Dade County. "We talk about the South Florida markets and where we are headed in the future."

He said although the trio have not made any specific plans, the lunches are a step toward promoting the idea of partnerships.

"I don’t know of two commuter service airports located in close proximity like Fort Lauderdale and MIA that don’t work together," said Bill Sherry, Broward County’s director of aviation.

Cooperation verses competition in aviation is the focus of the meetings, Mr. Dellapa said. There is, he said, more to be gained for the airport industry here through partnerships than ever before.

The Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports are not unlike neighboring New York airports LaGuardia and Kennedy, Mr. Dellapa said. Other than flights to and from Canada, LaGuardia has almost no international traffic while at least 55% of Kennedy’s flights are international.

Miami International Airport has a little more than 50% international traffic, according to Mr. Dellapa. By 2010, a little more than 60% of all flights there will be international — a true gateway airport, he said.

Fort Lauderdale’s airport mostly handles domestic origin to destination flights — only 3% connect to other flights, Mr. Sherry said.

And Palm Beach International considers itself the last major airport to the north before Orlando, said Director Bruce Pelly.

"We mainly serve Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties," Mr. Pelly said. "We are in a unique situation as far as all three airports being so close to each other. Anyone can go to either of them. It really depends on the flight and the cost."

Miami International, Mr. Dellapa said, is undergoing a major renovation and expansion that includes two new concourses. Concourse A will eventually become a portal for American Airlines while H will become part of a terminal for United Airlines.

Officials also have approval for a $164 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to build a Miami Intermodal Center. That project will, among other things, put a car rental depot on airport grounds.

Fort Lauderdale International just completed a 4,900-space garage and is building a nine-gate terminal, said Jim Reynolds, airport spokesperson. He said it is also undergoing a road infrastructure enhancement project.

"Our airports are co-existent and mutually dependant on each other," Mr. Dellapa said. "We live in a megapolis." Details: Miami, (305) 876-7000; Fort Lauderdale, (954) 359-1200; Palm Beach, (561) 471-7400.