International airport traffic seen rebounding in year
By Catherine Lackner
Traffic at Miami International Airport is expected to remain strong and regain some of last year's
lost ground, said Peter Reaveley, the airport's consultant on international planning and former manager of
In 1999, 33.9 million passengers passed through Miami International but in 2000 that number dipped to
about 33.6 million, a loss of about 1%.
Final 2000 figures are not in, Mr. Reaveley said, but airport officials are confident their predictions are
correct. Two factors were at work Y2K fears in January, which slowed domestic travel, and instability in
South America, which dampened international traffic.
"Throughout the year, South America has been very flat," Mr. Reaveley said. "In Colombia, Venezuela,
Ecuador and Argentina political and economic problems held it flat."
In the year ahead, he said, a prediction of 34.3 million passengers is slightly more optimistic.
"I am projecting that passenger traffic will be up 2% due to two factors. The Y2K issue is now behind us
and this January will much be better than January of last year.
"And for the spring, we have a significant increase in European transatlantic routes, which makes Miami a
much better connecting point."
To our south, "the economy in Brazil is recovering nicely. Chile is doing well and will recover during the
year. We'll have a relatively good year internationally."
The domestic travel picture won't be quite as bright, he said.
"There will be no change in the number of domestic seats," Mr. Reaveley predicted. "Low-fare, cost-cutting
airlines like Southwest that fly out of Fort Lauderdale are drawing an increasing number of discretionary
travelers up to Broward County."
He said 99% of the state's international flights still arrive and depart in Miami but Fort Lauderdale is
gaining a foothold for economy travelers.
The exception, he said Midway Airlines, based in North Carolina, will start four flights weekly from Miami
to Raleigh-Durham with connections to the Northeast, in partnership with American Airlines.
Cargo shipments will remain steady at 1.7 million tons per year, the same level that the airport saw in
1999 and 2000, Mr. Reaveley forecast.
"Exports continue to fall because of political and economic problems in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador
and Argentina," he said.
"Imports are beginning to rise, however, as countries devalue currencies and exporting to the US becomes
more cost-effective. Brazil, a highly industrialized country, will increase its exports as its economy
Domestic cargo operations will get a boost with the opening of new facilities in the next few years for
FedEx and United Parcel Service, Mr. Reaveley said. He said DHL already has a facility at the airport and
one in the office-warehouse district nearby.
"Gradually those companies will dominate Miami's domestic cargo picture," Mr. Reaveley said.
New transatlantic flights in planes that carry passengers as well as cargo are projected to keep the
airport economy healthy, he said.
Air France operates daily 747 service from Miami to Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris and will add twice
daily flights in March, while British Airways will double its daily 747 service to London's Heathrow Airport at
about the same time.
"This provides more connections to Europe and the Middle East," Mr. Reaveley said.
Iberia operates 13 flights weekly out of Miami to Madrid and will increase that while Lufthansa will add
Miami-Munich-Vienna service to its current Miami-Frankfort flight schedule in early April.
"This is important because Munich is their second hub, after Frankfort," Mr. Reaveley said.
Northwest Airlines in April will institute four Miami-to-Amsterdam flights daily in a code-sharing
arrangement with KLM.
"KLM has a huge hub in Amsterdam," he said, "with tremendous connections to all of Northern Europe.
"All of these daily and double-daily flights, added to the very wide range of flights we now have, synergizes
and increases the connections available through Miami," Mr. Reaveley said. "That kind of increased air
service is a good thing for international tourism and international trade."
On the South American front, American Airlines in March or April will institute a Miami-Maracaibo route,
while Lan-Chile will fly out of Miami to Guayaquil and Quito daily, he said.
Taca-Peru is now flying directly from Lima to Miami and Tam of Brazil has been awarded the Vasp
international route authority. The airline now flies twice daily from Miami to Sao Paulo "and would like to fly
Miami to Rio de Janeiro, but are waiting for delivery of wide-body aircraft," Mr. Reaveley said. "This is a
very strong airline in Brazil, with a very high reputation."
Varig will begin to increase its service as the Brazilian economy accelerates, he predicted.
"This summer," Mr. Reaveley said, "we can begin to expect the Brazilians back. The economy is picking up