Freighter flights, pharma traffic boost MIA freight tonnage

After posting only a narrow increase of under 1 percent growth in 2016, compared to the previous year, cargo freight tonnage at Miami International Airport (MIA) rose by a more robust 4.8 percent, year-over-year, during the first six months of 2017. The airport attributed much of this year’s first-half growth to new freighter flights serving MIA and the airport’s efforts to provide cold-chain services for the transport of pharmaceuticals and other perishables.

Cargo tonnage on Middle Eastern carriers at MIA rose by 114 percent, y-o-y, in H1 of 2017, while European and Asian carriers saw 11.7 percent and 10 percent growth, respectively. Latin American and Caribbean carriers saw only a modest 2.7 percent increase, y-o-y, but Mexican carriers posted a freight tonnage increase of 308 percent, compared to the previous H1.

Growth from Mexican carriers is partly derived from the Mexican airline AeroUnion, which began flying into MIA during the first half of this year, along with Qatar Airways. The airport also improved infrastructure in 2016 with the launch of a facility improvement program to enhance security and Florida’s first ocean-to-air perishables transshipment program, permitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

MIA also attributes freight tonnage growth to the growing pharma freight sector, where volume increased 48 percent, y-o-y, at the Miami hub in 2016. MIA was the first airport in the United States to receive IATA certification as a pharma freight hub in 2015, and nine pharma logistics companies at the airport have undergone IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) pharma certification program.

“To grow our cargo tonnage by nearly 5 percent overall is significant, especially when you consider that some South American economies are still rebounding from a difficult year in 2016,” said Miami-Dade aviation director Emilio González. “We’re confident in the work and attention we’ve invested into – and continue to devote to – enhancing our cargo operations at MIA and look forward to closing 2017 with even stronger numbers.”

To continue increasing its airfreight volumes, MIA plans to roll out the first phase of its cargo infrastructure renovation to double its freight capacity. It is also seeking approval as a Foreign Trade Zone, which would allow manufacturers to lease vacant property at the airport to reduce or even eliminate tariffs.

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