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Front Page » Top Stories » Weak Latin American Economies Send Miami Airport Cargo Into Tailspin

Weak Latin American Economies Send Miami Airport Cargo Into Tailspin


Written by on September 14, 2000

By Candice Ventra
Weak Latin American economies are being blamed by county officials for the lion’s share of an 11.2% dip in volume of foreign freight recorded in July at Miami International Airport.

Aviation officials Tuesday cited volatile markets in Colombia and Venezuela — two of South Florida’s top trading partners — as the reason for a decline to 110,504 tons of freight.

The airport’s most recent international freight projections forecasted an overall decline of about 4% — or 1.46 million tons — for the entire year.

International freight has been lagging all year — down 3.5% from January through June 2000 when compared to the same months in 1999. But, the recent 11.2% decrease reflects the steepest drop yet.

Tony Villamil, CEO of Washington Economics Group, said he’s not surprised.

"In Venezuela, the economy is in recession," he said. "Colombia has major problems relating to civil order. There is a significant amount of flight capital leaving those countries."

Banks and real estate companies here, he said, are seeing a significant increase in Venezuelans and Colombians depositing money here or investing in local real estate.

"If citizens do not have confidence in their own country," Mr. Villamil said, "obviously trade and investment will suffer."

On the positive side, Miami aviation officials said domestic freight in July rose 5.5%, or 23,309 tons.

Mr. Villamil said he doesn’t anticipate the international freight picture to improve this year.

International and domestic travel at the airport dropped 1.7% and 5.8% respectively in the month, figures showed. Competitive ticket prices for passenger flights at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is cited by officials as partly the reason for Miami’s losses.

Combined foreign and domestic passenger totals fell 3.7% in July, according to Miami-Dade Aviation reports.