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Emilio Gonzalez

Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director

Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez (left) and Bruce Orosz with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau pose for a photograph on the inaugural flight from Qatar to Miami.
Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez (left) and Bruce Orosz with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau pose for a photograph on the inaugural flight from Qatar to Miami. (WPLG/Christina Vazquez)

I am here to take part in the inaugural flight from Doha to Miami. It will be the first flight of its kind and I will be coming with the chairman of Qatar Airways.

It is a five-star carrier, it is an award winning carrier, but more important for Miami-Dade County, it is a carrier whose passenger traffic goes in the opposite direction of our normal passenger flow.

Passenger Traffic

Their passengers are mostly from India, from Pakistan, from China, from Pakistan, from Australia, Africa, the Middle East and from some degree Eastern Europe.

We've been a county that has been a north-south county and this allows us to be an east-west county and it's part of making us a truly global community.

The fact that we now have access to parts of the world that before we didn't have direct access, it means a lot. It means a lot as far of culture. It means a lot as far of business. It is something we continue doing and I am going to continue to work hard to bring airlines like Qatar to Miami-Dade County.

Miami is more than a city. We're a county. Miami is a brand and everybody knows who Miami is. We still have our gateway status to Latin America, so for a lot of these carriers coming to Miami is just as good as going to Latin America, so there's feeder traffic coming through, going to and coming back. So we are very excited that Qatar Airways offers a different part of the world to experience our community.

Cargo Traffic

Miami International Airport continues to be the largest air cargo airport in the United States and obviously when carriers like Qatar come to Miami they are bringing passenger traffic, but there is an expectation that they will bring robust cargo traffic both coming and going and that is something that we want to encourage as much as we can because we want to continue to be first in the United States in international air cargo.

In the Middle East we used to have El Al that flew out of Miami and they stopped flying. I believe at one point Turkish Airlines used to fly out of Miami and they stopped flying, so this is an opportunity to reengage this part of the world and reengage it on steroids because of the quality airline, the quality passenger flow and everything that they are going to do for Miami-Dade County by connecting us to this part of the world.

Economic Impact

One of the reasons why I am constantly chasing new international carriers is because international flights mean incredible amount of money for Miami-Dade County. For example, we did a study not too long that showed one daily international flight into MIA is worth hundreds of millions of dollars into Miami-Dade County. We are a very high-end community. We are a high-end airport. People come to Miami to spend, to buy, to invest, so the multipliers are pretty significant for international carriers.

They chose Miami. They came a couple of years ago, we had this on-going conversation, they are very particular about where they go to. Miami is only the sixth city in the U.S. where Qatar flies. Shortly after the Miami flight they will start service in Dallas.

It really says a lot about our community we are growing up. We are not a north-south community anymore. We are truly a global community.

Qatar Airways: Connecting Miami to the Middle East

it was excellent. It's probably the best flying experiences I have had in a very long time. The service, the comfort, the fact that the aircraft is configured really for passenger comfort. Most of their aircraft is new so you are flying on a new aircraft. I think they were probably overstaffed in terms of people who were taking care of you, making sure all your needs were met. Again, customer service and comfort is by far one of the best I experienced.

The fact that you have a country this small, a genuinely small country, and they have ordered somewhere between 250 and 300 aircraft tells you what plans they have for themselves. They want to be a transportation hub here, the hub for this part of the world, they want to make sure they get there first and that when they get there they are the biggest, so they are going at it in a way to make sure to position themselves in the future as the Middle East hub.

We are now just one flight away from all the places that they fly. You could actually come from China to Miami via Doha. You can come from Pakistan and India via Doha. In the past, you would have to go through New York or other places, but now it is a direct Miami flight so it really does open up South Florida to about another third of the world that before we didn't have direct access to.