Travel grew despite tourism challenges; freight traffic also set new annual record
(MIAMI, January 23, 2017) – Miami International Airport experienced another record-breaking year in 2016, serving nearly 44.6 million travelers – an increase of 234,000 over 2015 that also secured the airport’s seventh-consecutive year of passenger growth. The busiest U.S. airport for international freight broke its 2015 record for annual freight traffic as well, growing 0.37 percent to 2.18 million tons in 2016, according to final audited statistics (attached) from the Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD).
Despite a large downturn in travel between MIA and top South American markets with struggling economies, in addition to the presence of Zika in South Florida, the global gateway’s annual passenger traffic still increased by 0.53 percent. While travel between MIA and Brazil alone – the airport’s top international market – fell 600,000 passengers in 2016, increases in other countries and domestically kept the global gateway on an upward trend.
Domestic passengers rose by 0.26 percent to 23.2 million, while international traffic grew by 0.82 percent to nearly 21.4 million passengers. MIA continues to be among the world’s top 10 hubs for international freight, with 1.9 million tons of international shipments and 287,953 tons of domestic freight.
“MIA’s continued growth in 2016, especially in the face of severe challenges to tourism locally and throughout our world region, is very encouraging,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “I thank the Board of County Commissioners for their continued support of MIA, and MIA’s leaders for the work they do to keep our County’s top economic engine moving forward.”
Adding to MIA’s growth were the launches of 10 new entrant airlines: AeroUnion, Dominican Wings; Eurowings; KF Cargo; Northern Air Cargo; Pan American World Airways Dominicana; Scandinavian Airlines; Silver Airways; Surinam Airways; and 21 Air. MIA is now home to 109 carriers, the most of any U.S. airport. MIA also welcomed six new international nonstop routes: Bimini, Bahamas; Cologne, Germany; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway; Paramaribo, Suriname; and Varadero, Cuba.
“I join our community in being incredibly proud of another record-breaking year at MIA,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, Chairperson of the County’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee. “MDAD continues to be one of our community’s strongest economic engines by bolstering tourism and creating local jobs for our residents. I wish the Aviation Department continued success in 2017.”
MIA’s airline roster will expand further in 2017 with the addition of four more carriers, all of which will serve international destinations. Low-cost Mexican carrier Volaris will fly daily to Mexico City and four times a week to Guadalajara, Mexico, beginning on February 1. Following Volaris three days later will be First Air, which will begin weekly charter service to Mount Hope, Ontario in February 4, on behalf of Celebrity Cruises. Low-cost European carrier WOW Air will begin flying to Reykjavík, Iceland three times a week in April, and Aer Lingus will begin three weekly flights to Dublin, Ireland in September.
“We had a 30-percent decrease from our busiest international market, and we still ended 2016 better than 2015,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González. “With sustained growth by hub carrier American Airlines, more international carriers on the way, and new business opportunities for our cargo airlines, we expect another prosperous year in 2017.”
MIA’s success last year went beyond its passenger and cargo performance. The airport was the recipient of two prestigious national awards: the inaugural Airport Innovation Award from the American Association of Airport Executives, for its creative work to improve the passenger experience; and the 2016 Inclusion Champion Award in the Large Hub Airport category from Airports Council International-North America, which recognized the proactive and innovative steps taken by the Miami-Dade Aviation Department to successfully achieve minority inclusion in its business contracts, workforce and employee development through a sustainable model.