More than a modernization

MIA’s $6.3 billion capital improvement program nears completion


“So it’s all about how many times you turn a gate as opposed to having more gates; the concept was conceived in order to facilitate connections.

“On average right now, American turns their gates four and a half times per day; if they had to, they could turn a gate ten times per day — so that’s the name of that game.”

American has made a commitment to Miami, comments Abreu. “This is its Caribbean and Latin American hub; we are one of its biggest hubs, second only to Dallas. We are also the second largest gateway to the nation for international traffic, behind only JFK.”

Phase 1 of the North Terminal construction is now complete. American is utilizing a 290,000-square foot area that features 58 ticket agent positions, 66 self-service check-in devices, 14 curbside check-in positions, and two new security checkpoints. Phase 2, scheduled to open this fall and next spring, will include 25 new or renovated passenger gates, American Eagle’s new two-gate Regional Commuter Facility, a one-mile long four-station people mover (the North Terminal SkyTrain) capable of transporting 9,000 passengers per hour, and a state-of-the-art baggage screening and delivery system.

The entire North Terminal is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2011. Remarks Abreu, “When complete, the North Terminal will be a 50-gate super hub with the capacity to serve more than 30 million passengers per year.”

Security, Baggage

“As a gateway to the nation, we require additional cost and effort with regard to infrastructure because of the sterile area leading to Federal Inspection,” says Abreu. “The North Terminal was no exception.

“For example, Orlando has almost the same amount of traffic, yet its international traffic is less than 10 percent of its total traffic; we’re about 50/50. Our gates need to be both domestic and international; the international gate has to have additional infrastructure to keep it sterile — this amounts to an additional floor for the entire terminal.

“With the exception of concourse G, all of our gates are convertible to be domestic or international; we have built in that flexibility.”

In addition to the added level of security, the baggage handling system in the North Terminal is “probably the most sophisticated in the world,” relates Abreu.

“It’s a gate delivery system — in other words, a bag doesn’t go to a cart where someone will deliver it to the gate; it’s an in-line baggage system that delivers bags from the ticket counter directly to its respective gate.”

The gate delivery baggage system cost $202 million and includes ten miles of conveyor belt, he says. The North Terminal is a mile in length and includes 50 gates; the baggage delivery system features 25 in-line explosive detection system machines and will have the capacity to screen and transport 8,400 bags per hour.

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