Passenger traffic down at MIA, but cargo demand is soaring

Pandemic supplies to Latin America and Europe reason for increase

MIAMI, Fla. – Passenger traffic might be down 95 percent at Miami International Airport, but cargo traffic is going up. The airport has been playing a crucial role in the global for medical necessities during the pandemic.

As COVID-19 cases mounted worldwide, the immediate need for medical supplies intensified. Cargo traffic is now up 50 percent at MIA and it has been operating non-stop since the pandemic began.

"The number of pharmaceuticals and PPEs that have come in that is something that obviously wasn't through the airport before the pandemic," Emir Pineda, manager, Aviation Trade and Logistics, said.

Derry Huff of the United States-based, all cargo airline Amerijet, explained pre-pandemic that cargo going to regional international markets like the Caribbean supported industries such as tourism and cruise ships. When those markets vanished, they shifted gears.

"What we've done is completely shifted gears into medical pharmaceuticals and supplies," Huff said.

Three years ago, they invested in temperature controlled warehouses at the airport and thought through their supply chain, from ground handling to maintaining temperature control on the aircraft, which has now allowed the company and MIA to capture pandemic-related cargo business. They can respond to the growing need for medical supplies in Latin America and Europe because of these upgrades.

"We have more cargo flight than we have had passenger flights, which I think this is the first time Miami has ever had that," Pineda said.

The trick now, they say, is managing yet another pivot when currently closed industry sectors begin to reopen.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."