“Because we are a highly international airport and we have layovers during certain hours of the day where we have peaks to South America or Europe, we also have an entire room dedicated to early baggage storage,” says Abreu. “The system automatically knows where to store the bags, and it will know if a connection is missed … it identifies the first available flight to that destination and sends the bag there; the system is completely automated.
Managing the Project
Comments Abreu, “There is no such thing as a perfect set of plans; imagine trying to work this terminal with only 30 percent of the plan complete; that’s how I inherited this project.
“You have got to plan the work before you work the plan. We tried to spread the work around; we had some 49 different contractors in tying one area to another; inefficiencies were everywhere when I took over.”
In addition, says Abreu, all of the contracts were time and material … “In other words, the county would only pay time and material, so where was the incentive to finish the project?” asks Abreu.
“We are the contractor, but at least within the current contracts, different annexes were negotiated lump sum as opposed to time and material. With that, I could get a handle on how much I will end up paying as opposed to not knowing until the end of the month when the bill is sent; that was a change that needed to be made.
“The community has also helped a lot. Miami-Dade may have a reputation of being highly diverse with a good amount of varying interests, but if there is one administrator in this County that has been almost if not entirely supported in this project, it has been me.
“For example, the county passed an ordinance for the North Terminal that allows me the flexibility to change things contractually or otherwise, as long as I don’t go over budget without having to go to the Board of County Commissioners; the County gives me that freedom.”
MIA utilizes a residual airfield and terminal lease structure, relates Abreu. All of the common gates have an equalized rate, meaning, “No matter where you are at the airport, the rates are equal; you will not pay more because you’re in a newer terminal,” says Abreu.
“That’s something we may revisit; right now everything is in flux and this model has served us well throughout the construction period.”
The funding for the CIP is backed by aviation revenue bonds, says Abreu. “We have been able to maintain an A rating among the three ratings agencies,” he adds. “In fact, Fitch upgraded our outlook a few months back from negative to stable; out of 33 airports that went to market between June 6 and December 2009, 24 received a downgraded outlook ... and we went the other way.
“There are a couple reasons for that — our traffic is steady and the alternative minimum tax waiver under the stimulus package has provided considerable relief.”
“We are on some 3,300 acres and we have an entire cargo city,” relates Abreu. “We are the number one international freight airport in the nation.
“The trade we do with Brazil here is huge, some $13 billion per year. I asked an official there, why Miami? He answered, because you’re so close to the United States!”
MIA’s top trade partners by weight also include Columbia, Chile, Peru, Equador, and Argentina. In January 2010, the airport’s leading cargo airline was Arrow Air, with 14 percent of the market share, based on total freight tonnage.
The airport is now contemplating a new development for Centurion Air Cargo, which is planning to transform a parcel of land into an air cargo hub, he says.
“The infrastructure here is great; four runways and a cargo city … but I think what makes us special in the cargo area is the privately owned freight-forward industry located all around the airport,” he explains.
Apron space for cargo has grown to over 3.8 million square feet, with 41 common-use cargo positions and 23 leased cargo positions.
After finishing 2009 on an upward trend in both passenger and cargo volumes, MIA had an increase of 25 percent in freight for the first quarter of 2010. Through March, MIA handled 427.7 tons of international freight and some 55 tons of domestic freight in the first quarter.
MIA has systems in place to reduce pollution, save energy and educate employees about being environmentally friendly.
American Airlines has opened an Admirals Club lounge in Concourse E at Miami International Airport to replace one in Concourse A that recently closed to accommodate construction for the North Terminal...
$1.1 billion facility will see phased-in opening process