As the number one airport in the nation for international cargo last year, Miami International Airport (MIA) is a global freight hub for the distribution of perishable products, high-tech commodities, telecommunications equipment, textiles, pharmaceuticals and industrial machinery.
Located on 3,230 acres of land, Miami International Airport (MIA) is situated near downtown Miami and operated by the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. Founded in 1928, MIA is the leading economic engine for Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida, generating business revenue of nearly $32 billion annually and welcoming approximately 60% of all international visitors to Florida. The airport and related aviation industries contribute 275,708 jobs directly and indirectly to the local economy, or one out of every 4.6 jobs in the region.
At MIA, more than 90 airlines serve a global route network of 159 cities on five continents, as well as 100 freighter destinations. The airport is also currently the top international passenger gateway to the US. With a total of 3.66 million square feet of warehouse, office and support space—nearly 400,000 of which is temperature-controlled—MIA is currently home to 56 passenger airlines and 42 cargo airlines.
MIA Continues to Grow
In 2021, about 2.75 million tons of freight moved through MIA, or 18% more than the prior year. Eighty-two percent of the freight went to international destinations and 18% of it stayed in the US. One of the largest and best-served gateways to Latin American and the Caribbean region, MIA manages 83% of US air imports and 79% of US air exports between Latin America/Caribbean region and the US.
Accounting for 95% of Florida’s total air trade value by dollar value and 41% of Florida’s total air and sea values, MIA’s top trade partners in millions of US dollars are:
- Brazil – $13,585
- Columbia – $6,209
- Chile – $5,294
- Malaysia – $4,386
- Argentina – $2,875
- China – $2,757
- Costa Rica – $2,629
- UK – $2,045
- Peru – $1,847
- Dominican Republic – $1,637
The top 10 commodity groups that were exported via MIA in 2021 were vehicle parts and tires; industrial machinery and parts; computers and peripherals; oil and gas drilling machinery; and telecom equipment. The top imports were flowers; fish and crustaceans; vegetable and roots; fruits and juices; and telecom equipment.
Pharmaceuticals & Foreign Trade Zones
In 2015, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recognized MIA as the first IATA-designated “Pharma Hub” airport in the US and only the second in the world after Brussels Airport. MIA received this recognition for engaging the local cargo community in the IATA Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma Certification Program, a program that prepares logistics companies to become experts at properly handling sensitive pharma products shipped by air.
Since then, numerous local MIA participants have received the CEIV Pharma Certification, and 19.7 million kilograms of pharma trade valued at $6.65 billion moved through MIA, an increase of 78.3% from 2020. Last year was a record year for total volume of pharmaceutical trade and for pharmaceutical exports (18,355 metric tons), and MIA’s fourth consecutive year of over 15 million kilograms of pharmaceutical cargo. A founding member of the Pharma.Aero global association, the airport was also an important hub for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
All of MIA is designated as a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) magnet site. Approved in 2018, the MIA FTZ created new synergies and opportunities for on-airport business development. The magnet site area encompasses the entire airport, where FTZs can defer, reduce and/or eliminate customs duties. The FTZs allow manufacturing, mixing of foreign/domestic merchandise, kitting and long-term storage for high-value goods, electronics, aerospace products, perishables, pharmaceuticals, avionics and other products.
County commissioners recently authorized the department to negotiate with CR USA Airport Management Inc., and AIRIS USA LLC for a lease agreement for construction of the “Vertically Integrated Cargo Community” (VICC) that is to nearly double MIA’s cargo capacity within five years.
The 5-story, 1.7-million-square-foot cargo handling hub will have an annual capacity of 4.5 million metric tons. It’s expected to be completed by 2027, create 3,000 permanent cargo operation jobs, and attract a $2 billion private investment—with no public money required.