Miami bids to woo Asian air carriers
By Lou Ortiz
An incentives program used as a beacon to guide 19 airlines and nearly 2 million passengers yearly to Miami International Airport since 2005 has now set its radar on emerging economic markets and the Asia/Pacific region — with new financial enticements.
"It's a whole new era for us," said Chris Mangos, county Aviation Department marketing director. "We're expanding the program for these extra-long-haul routes."
Targeted overseas passenger routes include Brazil, China, India and Russia — dubbed BRICs — along with Japan, South Africa and others. "If we got two or three of those in the next couple of years," he said, "we'd be very happy."
The program also focuses on cargo carriers and new domestic passenger routes in the US and Canada.
"New generation aircraft such as the Boeing 787 can make these long-distance flights a new reality," Mr. Mangos said. "In such a scenario, however, an airline would need to commit two aircraft to serve a daily operation to MIA [Miami International Airport], a proposition valued at a total aircraft commitment of at least $220 million to over $250 million."
The Air Service Incentive Program (ASIP) began in May 2005, officials said.
"Each program has been designed to complement the airport's air service development program," Mr. Mangos said, "which seeks to expand domestic and international passenger and cargo service at MIA and to introduce new air routes to the MIA route structure."
The fourth program of its kind got the all-clear Monday from the county Regional Transportation Committee. It now goes to the full county commission for approval.
ASIP4 "waives landing fees to qualifying domestic and international passenger carriers, as well as to qualifying cargo carriers that commence freight service from specific target markets," county Deputy Mayor Jack Osterholt wrote to commissioners.
"The program also provides carriers commencing international service from targeted global markets with matched funding for a collaborative advertising campaign meant to promote the newly operating air route," he wrote. "In addition, the fourth incentive program will provide a separate, more lucrative package for passenger and freighter service from the BRICs and Asia/Pacific markets."
For example, Mr. Mangos said, if a long-haul carrier commits to fly to Miami for two years, the airline would get about $876,000 in fees abated. In return, he said, the airport and the local economy would get $3,255,642 in commercial revenue.
"We are looking at a benefits package of landing fee abatements of two full years, and joint promotional funding grants for two years as well," Mr. Mangos said. "The prize, however, would be direct air access from MIA to points on the other side of the world."
"Air service incentives became a necessary tool in MIA's quest for development of new and expanded air routes," he said. "Airlines take a considerable risk when they consider route expansion and commitment of a considerably expensive resource, the aircraft, on a new route."
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