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Spotlight on route development at MIA: Sunny delight!


Miami International Airport’s route network continues to grow with Emirates launching services to Dubai and Southwest and JetBlue joining the gateway’s low-cost carriers, writes MIA’s communications director, Greg Chin.

Qatar, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, EL AL Israel Airlines and American Airlines will offer non-stop flights to the Middle East from Miami International Airport (MIA) this summer after the June 4 inaguration of American’s service to Tel Aviv and the launch of Emirates’ four-times weekly service between Miami and Dubai on July 22.

The new international services represent signficant route development success for MIA, which in the last year has also added both Southwest Airlines and JetBlue to our growing list of low-cost carriers (LCCs).

The addition of Southwest and JetBlue, as well as the recent increased expansion by Frontier Airlines, are the culmination of recruitment efforts by the Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) that date back from as recently as two years ago to as long ago as 15 years.

MDAD’s air service development efforts, in conjunction with air service consultants at InterVISTAS, have consistently targeted these carriers over the previously mentioned range of time.

There are numerous and varying reasons why their expansion and entry occurred within the last year, but there was always belief that eventually their growth strategies would encompass MIA as well.

In the case of all three LCCs, incentives did not play a major role in their recruitment. It is our belief that our persistence, ongoing analyses and growth of specific markets, MIA’s ability to keep its costs level and under control, combined with each carrier’s long-term expansion plans, all culminated in their ultimate and respective decisions to choose MIA.

After launching its first Miami flights last November by serving both Baltimore and Houston Hobby with four daily flights and Chicago Midway with a daily flight, Southwest expanded its route network from MIA in March 2021 by adding daily service to four more destinations: Atlanta; Dallas; Denver; and Nashville. The new routes increased Southwest’s presence at MIA to a current total of 16 daily flights.

Southwest’s twice-daily flights to Atlanta, Denver and Nashville provides Miami passengers with another travel option to those cities, while its daily service to Dallas Love Field Airport establishes a new route from MIA.

Southwest entered the Miami market last November. Its weekly flight schedule is already projected to generate an economic impact of more than $853 million in local business revenue and 6,788 jobs within the local economy annually.

On February 11 – JetBlue’s 21st birthday – the airline began its first Miami flights with service to four US cities: Boston (up to four times daily); Los Angeles (up to twice daily); New York-JFK (up to four times daily); and Newark (up to four times daily).

One month later, JetBlue announced plans to add daily Hartford service to its Miami network on June 24. The new service will bring JetBlue’s daily flights at MIA to a total of 15. MIA estimates that JetBlue’s full schedule of flights will generate more than 1.4 million passengers, nearly $915 million in business revenue and 7,300 jobs into the local economy annually.

Frontier first entered the Miami market in 2014 with service to Denver, New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Chicago O’Hare. Since then, it has gradually expanded its Miami network to 29 current cities.

Most recently, it began three weekly flights to Santo Domingo in December 2020, followed by service launches to three new cities before the busy 2021 spring travel season: Cancun, Mexico, (four times a week); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (twice weekly); and St Thomas, US Virgin Islands (twice weekly).

In April, Frontier added three more new routes: weekly flights to Guatemala City, four weekly flights to San Salvador, and four weekly flights to Ontario, California.

And on May 28, the airline began three weekly flights to Montego Bay, Jamaica, which will soon be followed by four more routes from MIA this summer: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (5x weekly) on June 10; Nassau, Bahamas (4x weekly) on June 24; San Jose, Costa Rica (2x weekly) on July 2; and St Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles (1x weekly) on July 10.

The launch of these four additional routes will bring Frontier’s network at MIA to a total of 33 destinations – its highest number ever.

As of May 2021, Frontier is MIA’s third-busiest passenger airline in seat capacity at 5.5%, behind hub carrier American Airlines at 65% and Delta Air Lines at 7.1%. Not far behind Frontier are newcomers Southwest at 4% and JetBlue 3.7%, followed by United Airlines at 3.5%.

On the long-haul international scene, MDAD’s aviation director and CEO, Lester Sola, described attracting Emirates to Florida’s second largest city as one of the proudest moments in MIA’s history.

He noted: “Adding Dubai to our growing list of top destinations around the world further solidifies MIA as a leading global gateway and Florida’s busiest airport for international passengers.”

Talking about the upcoming launch of the service, Emirates’ chairman and chief executive, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, stated: “Launching a non-stop service to Miami at this time signals our confidence in the recovery of air travel as countries progress on their vaccination programmes and implement protocols for the safe resumption of flight and travel activity, particularly in the United States and the UAE.

“It also underscores our strong commitment to the US market, which Emirates now serves with over 70 weekly flights across 12 gateways.

“There is a clear demand for this service from both leisure and business travellers and we anticipate that our new route will be warmly received across our global network, as well as by travellers in Southern Florida, South America and the Caribbean who can conveniently access Dubai and our wider network via Miami’s many air service connections.

“We look forward to facilitating even more tourism and commerce opportunities to and from Florida with this new route, and to providing our customers with the award-winning Emirates experience.”

While speaking at the inauguration of American’s new service to Tel Aviv, MDAD chairman, Jose Diaz, said: “It is incredible where we are today when you consider that when I walked down this corridor a few months ago it was basically empty. Today, it is full, and we are celebrating the launch of direct flights to Tel Aviv, which is very special for all of us.”

Sola said he expected good things from the new route and noted the importance of the airline to MIA and Miami Dade County, especially in terms of bringing jobs to the local community.

“We are certainly glad that American Airlines is not just our home town airline, but a premier home town airine. We live because American chooses to fly in and out of this airport. American never stopped flying throughout the pandemic and continued to provide employment for over 10,000 staff that live and work here, and for that we need to take a monent and thank them,” he remarked.

The addition and expansion of the three LCCs noted above and new long-haul international routes coupled with the sustained strong presence of our other leading carriers, helped MIA’s passenger traffic exceed its daily May 2019 levels on a few occasions during the month. The forecast for summer travel at MIA: bright and sunny.

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