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Miami Airport reaches high for cargo capacity
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Miami Airport reaches high for cargo capacity

Miami International Airport (MIA) is adopting a vertical approach to meeting air cargo capacity demand as it contends with limited space.

The airport’s “Vertically Integrated Cargo Community” project envisions a five-storey storage warehouse which is expected to more than double its current cargo capacity.

Expected to break ground next year, the estimated five-year project will add approximately 4.5m (US) tons of cargo capacity to the 3m tons of existing capacity, says Jimmy Nares, section chief – marketing at Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD), which operates MIA.

Being a 24/7 airport without slot restrictions helps with capacity management, but the project, which has secured planning permission, is crucial to the future growth of the airport.

“We’re very close to our cargo capacity right now”, says Nares.

“But we should be able to go up to approximately 7.5m tons capacity. We should be in a good position for 10-15 years after that”.

The idea for the building, of which two or three floors will be dedicated to cargo, originated from the limited space the airport operates in.

“We’re landlocked. We don’t have the luxury of being able to add additional land to build more warehouse space. So we decided to go vertical”, says Nares.

Aviation facility development organisation Airis USA LLC is leading the project.

The company will be building the structure in phases.

The first stage will focus on the first two floors, which will include about 2m sq ft of cargo storage, says Nares.

MIA certainly has enough air cargo business and stakeholders to warrant its warehouse investment.

82% of MIA’s cargo is international and the airport has the largest volume of international freight in the US by tonnage, says Nares.

“In 2019, before the pandemic, we were at 2.27m tons. In 2020 we had a record year at 2.33 tons – there was an increase of about 2.6%.

“Then in 2021 cargo increased by 18% to 2.75 tons”.

He adds: “This year, we’re on pace to be very close to hitting that mark. if not slightly surpassing it”.

MIA had a total of 52,389 cargo flights in 2022 (through November 7). This equates to an average of 168 cargo flights per day for the year.

Nares explains: “MIA is on pace to end 2022 very close to our record year for airfreight tonnage which was set in 2021 (currently +1% to 2% over CYTD (Calendar Year To Date) figures of 2021)”.

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