The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cleared the way for Miami International Airport to receive perishable freight imports by sea and load it aboard international flights – making it the first airport in Florida to handle ocean-to-air trans-shipment. The airport announced that the shipments should start by the end of 2016.
Customized Brokers, a subsidiary of Crowley Maritime, will coordinate the ocean shipment of perishable products from Latin America to the Port of Miami or Port Everglades and then transport them to MIA, where they will depart by air via KLM Cargo or Centurion Cargo to Europe and Asia.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also approved expedited processing of these ocean shipments before they depart by air – another first.
Stakeholders said they are especially enthusiastic about the intermodal development because it represents a new source of cargo for MIA, which already handles 1.92 million tons of international air freight annually – the most for any U.S. airport and the 10th globally.
With South American currencies currently depressed against the U.S. dollar, demand is up for north-south exports, the majority of which are perishables, in the air cargo sector. Lemons are an interesting example, as demand for the fruit has risen in China. This season has seen 100 dedicated freighters allocated to transport of the fruit.
The ocean-to-air program is expected to save both time and money for cargo shippers, who will receive expedited air transport and exemption from CBP duties. It will also allow European and Asian households to “receive produce from Latin America at the peak of freshness, extending, in some cases, the seasonality for certain available items,” according to the airport.
“This pilot program follows wins that we’ve had in securing additional entry points in South Florida, South Carolina and Savannah for certain perishables entering the U.S. from Central and South America. This further expands the distribution of fresh produce into supermarkets across the globe,” said Kimberly Wakeman, vice president of Customized Brokers.