The Continuing Sad Decline of Miami Air Service

Have you been through Miami lately? Unless you’re an American Airlines-loyalist, the answer is probably a firm “no.” While American’s presence continues to strengthen, other airlines are running away in droves. The latest is Delta, which dropped its last attempt to make non-hub flying there work this week. Why is this happening? True Meaning of Miami's Airport Code It’s actually a very clear lesson on how not to run an airport.

Miami is a vibrant city with a great local Latin population. That local presence combined with its location should make Miami a fantastic place for a Latin American hub. Sure enough, it is. It’s one of American’s jewels in an ever-rusting crown. By all accounts, it’s a rock star of an operation for the airline.

That makes sense, because soon enough, American and its oneworld partners might be the only ones left. Here’s a list of airlines that have left or cut back recently.

  • Air Jamaica cut its recently re-launched route to Kingston (but it still does Ft Lauderdale)
  • AirTran pulled all flights after the merger with Southwest
  • Alaska recently decided to switch its flights to Ft Lauderdale
  • Delta killed flights to Cincinnati, London, Memphis, Orlando, Raleigh/Durham, and Tampa
  • KLM canceled summer service to Amsterdam and winter service for next year is up in the air

So what’s left? A lot of silver birds. While Delta pulled out of many cities, it’s not like other US airlines are stepping in to fill the void. Pre-merger United doesn’t fly there much – there’s only one flight a day from Denver and three a piece from Chicago and Washington, many on regional jets. US Airways flies to Charlotte and Philly but it doesn’t even bother with its Phoenix hub. It can be downright difficult to find good flights to Miami if you’re traveling domestically . . . unless you fly American.

From Europe, there will continue to be some service, but it’s highly seasonal (winter, of course) and leisure-based. Nearly every Latin airline has to continue to fly there because that’s the bread and butter route, but we’re increasingly seeing even Latin carriers look elsewhere. TAM now flies double daily flights to Orlando in addition to its Miami service. But it’s not Orlando that’s the real threat. It’s Ft Lauderdale.

Ft Lauderdale has seen a tremendous increase in service over the last decade, much of it from low cost carriers. Sitting only 25 miles north of downtown Miami, Ft Lauderdale is not that far, especially considering how much of the population lives north of Miami itself.

Spirit makes its home in Ft Lauderdale with low cost flights all over the US and the Caribbean. JetBlue has grown its operation there over the last few years, and the new Southwest/AirTran combo will have a significant presence. Allegiant bases airplanes there while airlines like Alaska have moved service over from Miami. And despite its stated desire to fly into primary airports, Virgin America picked Ft Lauderdale over Miami. What gives?

You can probably blame it on two things. One is American. American is a tough competitor, and it fights ferociously if anyone invades its turf. But that doesn’t explain everything. The one that really grabbed me was Alaska’s decision to leave. Alaska and American are long time partners and American even puts it code on the Alaska flight. So something else is happening here to push airlines away.

That “something else” is Miami’s out-of-control spending. The airport is on a building spree putting together incredibly expensive, long-delayed terminals that are causing costs to simply skyrocket. In 2010, the airlines paid roughly $17.61 for each passenger boarded. In the next decade, that will balloon to over $30. Think about that. How can a low cost carrier survive in an environment like that? It can’t. And Alaska, despite not being a low cost carrier, apparently feels the same way. Everyone should. The crushingly high costs are simply too much to overcome, even with a partnership with American.

Of course, high costs alone wouldn’t cause the exodus. But high costs combined with a convenient alternative? Ah yes, that’s enough to make waves. It’s very easy for airlines to walk away from Miami and its money-wasting ways because Ft Lauderdale is so close. By comparison, Ft Lauderdale is downright cheap. In 2010, its cost per enplanement was a measly $5.32. You can imagine why low cost carriers have flocked there. That airport itself is going to see costs rise as it works to build a new runway for almost $800m (just broke ground), but even if costs tripled, it would be half of Miami.

Of course, if costs triple, Spirit and Allegiant might find themselves running away, so hopefully Ft Lauderdale is able to keep its spending down and its charges low. If the trend continues, we might just find Miami renaming itself to Miami oneworld International Airport.


87 Responses to The Continuing Sad Decline of Miami Air Service

  1. Interesting analysis. MIA has had a reputation for being mismanaged for at least 20 years. I did not know the costs were going to balloon that high. I suppose the loser in all this is Miami-Dade county, as it seems likely that the airport situation will accelerate the business shift north, such that Ft. Lauderdale will eventually be the “capital” of South Florida, with Miami declining in importance.

  2. Andrew says:

    Where are they going to add another runway at FLL? Looking at the airport from above, land around it looks pretty tight. Or are they simply lengthening the small runway on the south side of the airport (just from eyeballing it, it looks more like a general aviation runway as opposed to one that can handle most passenger traffic right now)?

  3. BSW says:

    As part of all this work, are they finally going to add an “In Transit” section to the airport so passengers flying between Latin America and Europe can connect without having to clear customs? It seems foolish that everyone has to clear in just to spend three hours in the country. I’m sure American and British would love it if they did.

    • Todd says:

      Does any US airport have an “in transit” section? I don’t know of any. I think it might be a customs regulation and not an airport issue.

      • BSW says:

        I don’t know of any, but it would be good addition to a few, MIA, DFW, and Atlanta to name a few. It does get complicated, however, when the airlines want to have domestic and international arrivals at the same terminal, but they seem to do just fine with it at Heathrow.

    • Aran says:

      In transit is impossible in the USA because international departures aren’t segregated from domestic. They are often side by side or across the concourse from each other.

      There aren’t the same exit formalities that you see in most parts of the world, nobody stamps your passport when you leave the USA.

      • Fred says:

        They can still have ‘in-transit’ baggage (NZ or QF does this at LAX – don’t remember which) where you still have to go through immigration but don’t have to claim your bags, drag them through customs, then recheck them.

  4. Alon says:

    Re: FLL’s new runway – – – you are correct. They are extending/enhancing the South runway so it will extend over US1 (the non-interstate road to the east of the airport) in a 6-story sloping bridge over the road…they will also have to demolish the Hilton hotel that is located on the south-west corner along I95 to make room

  5. Dan says:

    CF,

    The situation you describe at MIA is rather funny, actually. As other carriers leave and the costs must be absorbed by AA/OW carriers, does that mean fares are going to continue to go through the roof and get prohibitively expensive?

    • FRANK says:

      Where’s the money coming from for PIT? Not the airlines, there’s only alittle over 40 flights out of that airport daily, compared to some 500 in the 90’s. Charging airlines higher landing fees and boarding costs backfired there. It’s a ghost town.

    • CF says:

      That’s certainly the way it usually goes. More flights leave and the ones that remain take on a higher cost burden. It’s the spiral of doom. But in this case, it won’t be doom for American because it just reduces capacity and gives it more pricing power in a captive market.

  6. What goes around, comes around as the saying goes. Sounds like MIA/FLL show that. FLL used to be the poor step child of MIA, but now it’s Queen of the ball. But as MIA empty’s out, there will come a time with they most reduce costs to attract airlines. That may come at a time costs at FLL get to high and/or there will be no room to grow so airlines will again go back to MIA.

    AA will play a large part in what happens at MIA. As Dan said they will begin to have to cover more of the costs at MIA and they may just decide to cut back or go elsewhere. MIA will have to follow what AA does and not the other way around.

    Isn’t there another saying about don’t put all your apples in one basket. MIA should not rely on just AA to bring them business.

    Brett glad to see you didn’t go with POW MIA as you mentioned on Twitter yesterday.

    • CF says:

      Brett glad to see you didn?t go with POW MIA as you mentioned on Twitter yesterday.

      Oh yeah, even I knew that was a bad idea, and that says a lot!

    • Hugh Jar says:

      What a simplistic statement to make, that “they most (must) reduce costs to attract airlines.”

      How do you do that when you’ve got a ton of bond indebtedness to pay off because you’ve spent $3 BILLION on just AA’s North Terminal which is twice the original contracted price and delayed for years? Add in the South Terminal’s cost of over a $1 BILLION which was built because the “other” airlines threatened to sue for equal facilities to AA’s?

      Let’s not forget the history of the “project that ate the airport.” AA hired a slew of high priced sleazy lobbyists to coerce the county commission into letting them manage the North Terminal’s construction on the premise that they could do it under budget and on time. They failed miserably, coming back to the airport and the county commission for hundreds of millions in cost overruns. The project came to a standstill with a ton of sub-contractors not getting paid so they wouldn’t work. Politically-connected minority firms were hired and paid millions for work of little value. AA got Angela Gittens, the airport director, fired by the county for refusing to approve more cost overruns. After she was fired the stupid county manager agreed that the county had to take the project back from AA. The project was dead in the water while the county re-bid the project to finish it, adding hundreds of millions and eliminating a ton of planned niceties like elevators and escalators. Years after completion was due it is mostly done but at an astronomical cost which will be paid for over the next two or three decades.

      The more airlines that pull out of MIA the more AA and others remaining will have to pay and the passengers will pay for that through higher ticket prices.

      It’s a good thing MIA has a huge cargo operation and a lot of revenue from all the stores and restaurants to help pay the costs of the passenger airline terminals or the cost per enplaned passenger would be much higher than it already is.

  7. SEAN says:

    Meanwhile MIA is constructing a new intermodle transit center that includes rental car center now open, TRI-RAIL station under construction, bus terminal for both MDT busses as well as inter city services under construction & MIA Mover now open.

    In adition there are atemps to creat a transit village around the MIC including retail, hotels & airport related businesses.

  8. tacony palmyra says:

    Good analysis. I often prefer to fly into MIA over FLL these days for one reason: the Miami-Dade Transit “Airport Flyer” express bus that goes to South Beach in 35 minutes for $2.35. If you’re renting a car or getting picked up by someone with a car though, forget about it, FLL wins. It doesn’t seem like MIA will be able to compete with FLL purely on price for some time, so they have to capitalize on unique attributes that people will pay for, and one should be quicker, easier access to Downtown Miami, Brickell, South Beach, and the Port of Miami– the 4 areas where anybody who’s not traveling in a private vehicle would likely be going in South Florida.

    I know that the new Metrorail expansion station at the airport is opening very soon and I think this is the right direction. There’s a decent market of New Yorkers and Europeans who would value the easier transit connections if they were promoted– these are also people who aren’t afraid of getting on a public bus. Even small things like signage help. It’s interesting to see the difference between a city like NYC or Chicago where you see transit signs as soon as you get off, whereas Southern cities hide the public bus access and promote car rental.

    • Fred says:

      If the demand is there, I’m sure someone (either private or public) will start some sort of a bus to Miami for less than the $25 difference in landing fees. Just give it time.

    • David says:

      I am flying to MIA this Sunday and will be utilizing the Airport Flyer cited by Tacony. What a bargain! I assume that it is safe, given some of the comments regarding MIA not being in a great area.

  9. ptahcha says:

    Miami is a horrible airport to transit/connect through. Signage is poor, and long walk to go from gate to gate. As an example, at the temporary USCIS passport control center, there is a directional sign that directs you into a wall.

    • SEAN says:

      As an example, at the temporary USCIS passport control center, there is a directional sign that directs you into a wall.
      I assume the wall is there for you to bang your head after getting fustrated with traveling through there? LOL

  10. Steve says:

    We flew out of MIA in June to Quito and back. Its a filthy, rotten, horrible, uncomfortable airport. Custom and immigration were a nightmare returning on AA with thousands of people being squeezed like sausage meat into casings. It is in a crime-ridden part of town, and there are numerous stories of crime inflicted on travelers after renting cars. As far as I’m concerned, may it REST IN PEACE.

    The down side: when will all the extra business start to affect FLL, resulting in slow downs.

  11. DAB says:

    Then there is also PBI, which had for years been the best of the three to go in and out of since they completed the new terminal in 1990ish. Cheap-ish parking, pleasent terminal, low hassle… Of course, it has been half a decade since I have lived there so maybe things have changed. MIA has been a disaster my whole life, and FLL was always in some kind of state of flux making the place difficult to navigate. It is surprising to see in the comments that MIA is doing anything as intelligent as a rental center and metro-rail.

    Actually, there is a nexus in that last sentence with Cranky’s favorite airport for atacking costs: LAX. Why they don’t have a consolodated rental car center on airport is a huge mystery to me. Here’s a plan: put the rental car center in the existing parking garage in the middle of the U, build a new parking garage where Hertz is currently located, and build light rail to connect that with the airport. Sure, it would be painful for a couple of years to implement, but let’s face it, who goes to LAX without expecting it to be a painful experience?

    Same goes for MIA. That is another airport where I would just expect some pain along the way…

    • CF says:

      Well, there are all kinds of problems around light rail at LAX. It’s been discussed for years, but the light rail line that was built by the airport passes just outside thanks to lobbying efforts to keep it away. It’s a sad state of affairs, that’s for sure.

      • Ron says:

        On the question of whether to use the space inside the horseshoe for parking or rental cars (at LAX or any other major airport), I think I posted a comment here several months ago. Obviously, parking is better for the locals while rental cars are better for visitors, but there’s also an economic issue of which pays more per parking space. It would be nice to have some figures on this.

        • CF says:

          I think we’ve seen the answer in other places like Phoenix where they move rental cars out to the edge of the airport so that they can have more room for parking close-in. Seems to me that parking is definitely the better revenue-producer.

    • PBI is a nice airport with a good future, but for now the problem is a lack of flights and lack of competition. So what winds up happening is you can get a more conveniently-timed flight to FLL and save money at the same time — so you tend not to fly into PBI. Also, for most of the SoFla population, FLL is better situated.

      • DAB says:

        Clearly from the location aspect, FLL is more central. However, depending on how much of a disaster it is with construction in any given year PBI can be more convenient, speaking as someone who grew up just north of Sunrise and Bayview… Clearly FLL is a lot closer, but my relatives who still live right there would rather drive the extra half hour or so to PBI rather than navigate FLL. Forget MIA for them. They are really price insensitive when it comes to avoiding MIA…

        Navigability wouldn’t affect me now, but I fly in and out of LAX all the time and they are in their 70s. They, along with a lot of the older South Fla population, want the less hassle which PBI has. I haven’t looked at PBI flight offering in a while, though, and I would believe that is a real problem for that airport. The economic downturn cost me some of my best flights from SAT. I can imagine that PBI could have lost everything non-northeast and non-hub…

        FLL can be cheaper, though, even in good times. The one time I rode Spirit (pre ultra low cost days, maybe 2003?) was out of FLL since it was cheap. If I remember the only competitive fare from PBI at that time was on NW, but it was going to involve some really goofy stops.

      • Ron says:

        The flight selection at PBI is indeed somewhat limited — last year I chose a non-stop flight LAX–FLL and then took TriRail to Palm Beach in order to avoid having a connecting flight. Would have done the same on the return, but the buffer you need for a reliable rail-to-air connection made it impractical.

  12. DougYWG says:

    I flew into MIA last month from the Caribbean. Never again!! People are treated worse than cattle. The lineup for immigration was backed up right along the corridors, you couldn’t even get into the immigration hall. Dreadful experience. I had a three hour connection and I made it. Anything less, forget it.

    • Roger says:

      I’ve heard lots of anecdotes that immigration at MIA is the worst in the US, especially the attitude of the officers towards foreigners, being extremely hostile. I don’t have any idea how true that is, but if it is I wonder how much of an effect it is having.

      • Lisa says:

        It is obviously having zero effect. MIA’s traffic hit an all time record in 2011. It is the natipn’s fastest growing large/medium airport and it’s intentional traffic has absolutely exploded since 2007. This is exactly why amateur bloggers shouldn’t try to on consultant hats. They fail miserably. CF’s conclusion that MIA is a dying airport is based on the loss of six domestic routes that total 40 weekly frequencies. He has no idea what he is talking about.

        • BNS says:

          Hey Lisa, I’m looking for a job in aviation consulting, and was wondering if you guys are hiring. I have an MA in Transport Economics. If you’re interested in hiring me, please email me braditude86@hotmail.com

        • Huh? CF is Amateur blogger with an MBA and experience in the industry? Perhaps you should work on knowing the author a bit before attacking him.

          I rarely trust consultants further than I can throw them.

          Is a logical possibility for the increase in boardings AA’s cornerstone strategy?

          • travelnate says:

            Lisa,

            How many times have YOU been on CNN… how many nationwide aviation conferences have asked YOU to headline or speak on a panel? I mean, if Brett is just an “amateur” you might want to do some research on him first.

  13. Zack Rules says:

    The stupid part of the matter is that Miami and South Florida in general have grown in leaps and bounds. I bet if costs were lower at MIA, there would be at least another 5-10m passengers there. With Jetblue on the move to add int’l flights at FLL [although Spirit seems to have run of markets that work for them there],

    Cranky, where did you see Delta pulling most of their MIA non-hub flights? I see downgauging to RJ’s for Memphis/Cincinnati and only RDU being dropped altogether.

  14. Sam says:

    Wow. What a terrible article. Did you even notice that Miami was, and still is, the fastest growing large airport in the United States? And you do realize that most of Miami’s extensive European service is year-round, yes? Apparently not. Do your homework before writing such a garbage piece. Your bias really shows.

    In 2011-12, American has lured VivaAerobus, Interjet, LAN Colombia, KLM, TAP Portugal, Arkefly and Transaero.

  15. Steven says:

    Wow. I’ve lost a significant amount of respect for you after reading this article. Let’s use some facts:

    1) Miami has attracted more new airlines than any other U.S. airport since 2010.
    2) Miami is the fastest growing airport in the U.S.
    3) Only one of Miami’s European services is seasonal (KLM), and they tend to be ran on low-density, three-class aircraft where available with top premium products.

    The loss of one daily AirTran flight, one daily Alaska Airlines flight and four weekly Air Jamaica flights somehow means the end of the world for the fastest growing U.S. airport? Do you have a personal vendetta against the airport, or is biased journalism with no fact checking your new favorite hobby?

    • CF says:

      Hooray, I love angry commenters! But seriously, stop spamming using different names. (The comments from Sam, Steven, and Albert are all from the same IP address.) You’re entitled to your thoughts here, but don’t pretend like it’s a bunch of different people saying the same thing.

      1) What you’re seeing is new airlines coming in to take a stab at service there, but I would be surprised to see sustained service from most.

      Most of the new airlines have come from Europe. KLM is one, but it’s effectively pulling out at this point (whether or not it comes back in the winter is unclear). Air Berlin is there, and that’s not a surprise that it remains with its pending entry into oneworld. TAP came in to Portugal and Transaero to Moscow. Oh, and Arkefly’s charter flights to Europe came in. I would be surprised if these were all still around in a couple years.

      Other than that, you’re talking about small airlines that very well may not last there that long. VivaAerobus and Interjet are both insane if they think they can operate low fare service once CPE reaches $30. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go elsewhere. And other than that, what? Sun Air in the Bahamas?

      2) Miami is the fastest growing among large airports in the US. That doesn’t mean it’s sustainable growth, and it also doesn’t show where it’s coming from. Some is from new airlines at the airport, but I wouldn’t count that until it proves its sustainable. Delta/KLM are pulling a lot of seats out that they put in there in the last year. How much of that growth was from American and its partners?

      Also, costs are still “only” in the $17 range. As it doubles in the next couple years, I look for more service to disappear. As I said in the post, Miami will continue to be the main point of entry for Latin airlines because it’s where the people are, but there are other points of entry gaining in prominence. Domestic service has been obliterated unless it’s on American. From the perspective of a US-based person, Miami is seeing a sad decline and it’s only going to get worse.

      • Lisa says:

        Its all the same IP because our boss in the airline group at a consulting firm in Los Angeles shared this with everyone as a shining example of shoddy amateur “blog analyisis.” congrats on being this week’s winner. It is especially ironic because our group is prepping a presentation on MIA, and how it’s an excellent example of an airport able to best weather a shaky market environment. The domestic cuts you list amount to 41 weekly flights. It’s not a big deal. Even Newark is losing Delta flights to Memphis. And here’s another tip: Airliners.net isn’t a source. And if you must use it, do not admit it.

        • CF says:

          I’m this week’s winner? Please send the award to PO Box 19782, Long Beach, CA 90807. Any awards from questionable consulting firms will be proudly placed on my wall.

          I’m honestly quite surprised that a professional consulting organization would have such an unprofessional response. Your anger is clearly misplaced here, unless, of course, you’re hoping to win some business from MIA by showing that you can do the best job of telling them how great they are.

          Not that I’m looking for a consulting firm, but if I were, your method of analysis would certainly push me away from looking at your firm as an option. (Of course, your unprofessional way of carrying yourselves would prevent me from even looking at your analysis in the first place.)

          The suggestion that since Miami has added airlines and has grown since 2010 is a very narrow and incomplete way of looking at things. Since you’re in Southern California, you’re undoubtedly aware that Ontario looked quite similar back in 2007/2008. Anyone remember how that turned out?

          You might suggest that Ontario lost service during a terrible recession while Miami has grown, but that fails to take into account that Latin America is booming these days. If it crashes tomorrow, then what happens to Miami’s service boom?

          In Europe, the problem is different. People in Europe want to go to Miami, so they don’t know or think to look at Ft Lauderdale. It’s a large counter-seasonal leisure business that can help fill airplanes during the traditionally slow winter season. That’s why Lufthansa puts its A380 there only during the winter. It doesn’t have a better place to put that behemoth. Miami can likely retain that Europe service, but that’s only a small part of the overall picture. The bread and butter should be in the Americas, and that’s where I’d be concerned most.

          Any airport that plans on doubling its already high CPE in the next 5 to 7 years should immediately be concerned about pushing out airlines, especially lower fare, shorter haul operations. That includes Central and Northern South America.

          US-based airlines are going to look out further than Latin carriers in general, so seeing the US airlines pull back and in some cases pull out should be a frightening warning sign.

          As to your other arguments, I can’t believe I’m even going to address such snide comments, but I suppose I will.

          *I’m not sure I understand your point about Newark losing Delta flights to Memphis. A lot of cities have lost Delta flights to Memphis, but that’s because Delta is consolidating around profitable operations. Delta’s focus in New York is LGA/JFK. Newark loses. Now, Delta wanted to build up Miami as a more prominent destination in South Florida, but it failed. Instead, Delta will serve South Florida most through Ft Lauderdale, an airport which not only keeps Memphis and Cincinnati service but still has mainline in those markets.

          *Airliners.net is a fantastic source. Is it a primary source? No way. I would never use what I see there without confirming it elsewhere, because there is a lot of false information there. But it’s a great way to be alerted to something that’s happening and then it’s easy to confirm on my own, as I did with these flight cancellations. Are you suggesting that those Miami flights are not disappearing? Assuming that they are indeed, then you’ve done nothing to prove that it’s a bad idea to look at that schedule report as a way to get information.

          I would love it if you’d share the name of your consulting firm. This bombardment of angry comments is truly enlightening as to how your business operates.

          • Andrew says:

            It sounds like Sam/Stephen/Albert is also the same person as Lisa. Cranky, how many hundreds of dollars per hour are you paying this consulting firm for their feedback on your work?! They sound like they’re worth every penny!

          • SEAN says:

            CF,

            Just for shiggles I clicked on Lisa & I got an error message. I guess he/she has a gender identity problem as well as some kind of personality disorder.

          • travelnate says:

            I guess that’s also why American is withdrawing from a handful of markets in MIA as well.. since the airport is such a “good” experience.

            I’ve flown in & out of both airports. And I also worked in planning for a fairly large airline. Airport costs are ALWAYS a major factor when they get as high as they have in Miami.

            the fact is, American is the dominant carrier and politics in Miami-Dade prevent this airport from being efficient. There are many different ways to operate an airport, and the difference between FLL and MIA are a total 180.

            the bureaucracy at MIA is SSSOOO thick its unreal. There are 5 people doing the job of one person in FLL, for example. BCAD (authority that runs FLL) should be commended for making it so easy for airlines… plus I also want to commend Kent (airport director) for actually responding to emails and phone calls, unlike Miami, where I never even got to meet the past director or have ANY direct contact with them.

            So for the consultants working for MIA, I suggest, as an AIRLINE PLANNER, that you really take a look at how BCAD operates and treats airlines. Joel & Gary were (are) great ambassadors to the airlines in FLL — unfortunately the airlines I’ve worked with have always found FLL more accommodating than MIA. Where MIA would say a flat out “NO”, Gary/Joel would say “ok, lets figure out if we can make this work somehow…”

  16. Sam says:

    This article has to be some sort of joke. The fastest growing major U.S. airport is in “sad decline.” Really?!?

  17. Sam says:

    This article has to be some sort of joke. The fastest growing major U.S. airport is in “sad decline.” Really?!?

  18. Albert says:

    I seriously hope you edit this article pronto to eliminate bias and add facts. Hate MIA all you want, but don’t right an article about supposed declining air service at an airport that is growing faster and attracting more new carriers than any other in the nation.

    Fastest growing U.S. major airport:

    http://www.anna.aero/2012/02/15/americas-top-20-airports-grew-by-2-5pc-in-2011/

    Most new airlines at a U.S. airport:

    http://www.miami-airport.com/pdfdoc/clips_annie-award.pdf

  19. Lisa says:

    Heres a tip for a blogger that’s want to be taken seriously: when you write an article about an airport’s “declining air service,” yet that airport is the fastest growing airport in the nation, you look really dumb.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2012/02/15/miami-airport-fastest-growing-of-top.html

  20. Bobber says:

    Afternoon all, did I miss anything?

  21. BCH says:

    “The Sad Decline of Miami Air Service.” Right up there with “The Heartbreak of Psoriasis.”

  22. Jim says:

    MIA just recently (I believe a couple of years ago) overtook LAX as the second largest international gateway in the country, after JFK. There is no question that international service is rapidly increasing. Domestic service, as CF has explained, is decreasing. This is not surprising given the high landing fees. For domestic flights, the landing fee is a higher percentage of the ticket, and therefore more of a deterrent, especially for low cost carriers. For long-haul international flights, an extra $30 makes little difference. I don’t think this is necessarily bad for Miami, because international tourists will keep the airport going and are likely more reliable than domestic tourists. Miami gets plenty of European tourists every year, so they really don’t even need the Americans, and Americans who want to go there will get there one way or another.

    • CF says:

      It’s a good point. Does Miami just not care about domestic traffic and instead wants to solely focus on international? I suppose that’s possible, but it would be a mistake.

      Europe is somewhat isolated since it’s mostly origin & destination traffic. But a lot of Latin America is shorter haul flying with the Caribbean and Central America. That could be impacted, especially as low cost carriers enter the market from other spots in Florida and bring fares down. That’s the biggest potential issue in my eyes. The domestic exodus is just the tip of the iceberg if costs really do spike that high.

    • Lisa says:

      Yet domestic passengers last year were up 5.8%. There are zero facts to support this aryicle’s ludicrous assertion. MIA attracted more airlines in the past two years than most airports attract in one decade. It’s growth through these years has been so phenomenal, it was a keynote speaker at Routes Americas in Nassau, where it talked in length as to how it has been able to buck all industry trends. No Relevant US. airport is growing, FLL included, is growing as fast or attracting as much new service as MIA. Facts are a good thing – too bad the author ignored them in writing this fluff piece.

  23. It’s been many many many years since I was at MIA. That was back flying PanAm and Eastern and some of their areas used to smell like a damp musky basement.

  24. Tony says:

    Lots of butthurt people from Miami posting here…

  25. Jim says:

    Oh, and Cranky, I don’t think Delta killed CVG and MEM service from MIA. According to wikipedia, Delta simply downgraded them from mainline to regional.

    Regarding MIA-LHR on Delta, according to Delta’s website they are still running. Maybe it’s just a seasonal thing?

    • DL announced today that starting April 17, 2012 they will start a second ATL-LHR flight. Starting April 17 and beyond the MIA-LHR nonstop is zero space. So it sounds like that extra slot at LHR for the second ATL flight is coming from MIA and it just hasn’t canceled out of the system yet.

    • CF says:

      Unfortunately, Wikipedia isn’t a good place to look at route info, because it relies on people updating it in a timely fashion and that doesn’t always happen. I was looking directly in Sabre to see what was selling.

      As David mentioned, Miami-London shows zero availability after that date, so it’s going to be pulled shortly. I see no CVG or MEM flights after April 9 in the system, and that goes all the way into next year.

  26. Lisa says:

    As if the basic premise of the article by itself doesn’t prove the author did no research, let me address his statement that it’s European service is “high seasonal” and “winter, of counts.”

    Airline / JAN12 weekly frequency / JUL frequency

    Air France / 6 / 7
    Airberlin / 5 / 8
    Alitalia / 9 / 10
    American / 31 / 28
    Arkefly / 2 / 2
    British Airways / 14 / 21
    Corsair / 4 / 3 (but switches from A330 to a 521 seat 747)
    Iberia / 7 / 11
    KLM / 4 / 0
    Lufthansa / 12 / 7
    Swiss / 7 / 7
    TAP Portugal / 3 / 6
    Transaero / 1 / 2
    Virgin Atlantic / 7 / 7 (with bigger aircraft in the summer)

    Oh, look at that, not really seasonal. And all it takes is 10 minutes in the OAG to fact check that statement. But saying that MIA’s European service is fairly consistent and year-round goes against this article’s merit less assertions.

    • CF says:

      As obnoxious as I find your tone, I actually like these disagreements, because it does make me think even harder about my post and dig in further.

      I looked at capacity the week of March 15 vs the week of August 15 for comparison. While your conclusion is partially right, your analysis is very elementary and too basic to actually judge capacity in the market. Allow me to do better.

      For those who are interested, here is a spreadsheet with details excluding the AA/BA/IB joint venture since those are bound to behave differently.

      Instead of just looking at frequencies, which is not helpful, I dug down to look at seat counts. It is true that the difference in seats between March and August is down less than 1%, but let’s look at each airline to see why that’s the case.

      Air France currently shows a 10% increase in seat capacity, but in a press release from Wednesday, it said it was reducing seats out of Miami this summer. Sounds like we’ll be seeing reductions soon.

      airberlin is a curious case, because it’s joining oneworld and it’s emphasizing the new Berlin hub that opens in June with growth. I’ll want to see what next winter looks like to see if it’s really a seasonal change or if it’s just growth to feed those two big changes for the airline.

      Alitalia, well, I have no idea what to say about them. They’re increasing seats by using a larger aircraft to Rome and adding one more weekly flight. Maybe they’re hoping for more inbound tourism to Rome this summer. But I don’t put much stock in Alitalia’s planning moves anyway.

      We should exclude Arkefly. That flight goes between Amsterdam and Orlando, and it just tags on to Miami. So they are looking for a very different threshold for running that operation that most other airlines.

      Corsair has a huge increase in capacity because it operates the 747. I’m certainly completely surprised about this increase, because I imagine there are very few Miami origin passengers and European passengers are more likely to come in winter for leisure. This is probably the most puzzling to me.

      We know the story with KLM. It’s out.

      Lufthansa sees a 44% decrease in seats because yes, it has fewer frequencies, but it also uses smaller aicraft.

      Swiss is flat. Interesting

      TAP is growing. It’s a new service, so again, I’ll be curious to see what happens after it sees results. Will be interested in seeing what happens in the winter schedule.

      Transaero has a big increase because it goes double daily, but with a smaller airplane. That’ll be fun to watch. Transaero is making a lot of changes.

      What we really see here is a tale of two Europes. Northern Europe sees much more seasonality than the more flat southern Europe.

      Anyway, on the surface, yes, it appears there is little seasonality in Europe, but that’s only if you use a basic metric. Digging in, there is a lot more to find that makes it much less clear. There’s a lot of noise in here, and I look forward to seeing what the winter skeds look like for 12/13.

  27. travelnate says:

    I’d love to see a year over year comparison of passengers, flights, airlines, and routes between MIA and FLL… those numbers should be an interesting story.

  28. This blog entry’s comments remind me why every time I hear a company has hired a consultant for some key task I pause, then roll my eyes.

    Oh Lisa it’s spelled article, but this is an opinion piece.

    • b757capt says:

      Nicely done. LOL

    • Andrew says:

      If “Lisa” is actually an honest-to-god aviation consultant and not some guy sitting on his couch in Miami, this real-life consultant will run around a city block in Manhattan naked when he’s there next week.

      • Ryan says:

        Me thinks Lisa is really Kate Hanni. If not, then CF has officially found public enemy number 2 and I look forward to many fun filled comment sections in the future. Maybe you should go “Across the Aisle” with this consulting firm Brett. Sounds like you are neighbors. You should schedule a lunch date.

    • your only mistake is pausing. the eyeroll should be instantaneous!

  29. yo says:

    The Miami airport hates children, puppies and unicorns!

    MIA has the highest rate of spontaneous human combustion of all airports in America, as well as the highest number of fatal wolverine attacks.

    My consulting firm is currently working to declare MIA as a Superfund toxic waste asbestos/plutonium/agent orange disposal site. I will refute anything that your consulting firm prints about MIA. To expedite the process of making MIA uninhabitable, I am going to hire Tony Orlando as the spokesman for MIA airport. Our new slogan “MIA, its slightly better than a rectal exam”

  30. AndrewS says:

    I was in Miami over the weekend, but flew into FLL

  31. Ryan says:

    Wow I wish I got out my popcorn before going through these comments. This is great!

    I find it hilarious that a “consultant” who makes comments full of misspellings on an aviation blog, in the same breath tries to bash the blogger and accuse him of getting information from airliners.net. A) This comment form does have spell check…(hint, it underlines words that are spelled wrong with a red squiggly line) B) Would comment on a blog they render meaningless and nothing but noise pollution and then themselves spew their own form of trolling noise pollution. I hope we don’t have to pay a consulting fee for all the wisdom you just laid on us. I know how expensive you guys can be!

    If you’re really an airline consultant as you say, then you would know how airports “attract” air service. Anyone who works for an airline and has any knowledge of establishing new markets (especially since the recession began), knows that airports are throwing ridiculous incentives at airlines to start service. Anything from free advertising using airport funds, to giving an entire year’s worth of free landing fees. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to get service subsidized from the start?

    The bottom line is, MIA is one of the most expensive airports in the nation and only getting more expensive. At AS, it was by far and away the highest cost per departure of any airport in our system. It was twice as expensive as the average system cost per departure and 20% higher than the next highest station.

    Yes, it’s easy to attract service when you’re giving it away for free. After those incentives dry up and the airlines realize what they actually have to start paying when that first bill drops on their doorstep, they think twice about staying in MIA. But I shouldn’t have to explain to some fancy and knowledgeable consultants about how airport incentives work. They appear to know how the industry works better than those who work at the airlines pulling out of MIA. Why do we even need consultants if it’s that obvious how awesome MIA is? Maybe they should start their own airline and hub it in MIA if it’s so great. Nah…that would be silly! Keep consulting away.

  32. Louis says:

    I live in North Miami, and work in downtown Miami. I fly often domestically and almost always end up flying from FLL because of 1- lower fares 2- better timings of flights, ie. more flights to major US cities. I would prefer to fly out of MIA, but the fares are too high for the company to absorb without an AA Corporate account and even when AA’s fares are competitive, the frequency to places like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Detroit are simply not timed well for me. Fort Lauderdale itself has become a crowded and congested airport, while MIA is more convenient.

    But still when you have Southwest and JetBlue flying frequently from one, and AA domination in the other, you get low fares at FLL and better customer service in-flight. That is another consideration. Southwest and JetBlue are generally on time and the customer service is far superior.

    It is a sad state of affair from MIA. Really it is. I think the high landing fees and fuel costs are only part of it. The other is AA dominating the airport in a way few other major domestic US airports are dominated.

    I would estimate 80-85% of my flights these days are from FLL despite living and working closer to MIA. That is a major problem from where I sit.

  33. SEAN says:

    Lisa, Dam I want your Phone Number! LOL

  34. Pingback: Travel News and Notes for February 23rd 2012 through February 24th 2012

  35. Chris says:

    Cranky,
    Remember that MIA continues to offer big incentives to those airlines (especially international) who begin new service…You will undoubtedly see new service (TAP, for instance), but the staying power of such arrangements remains to be seen

  36. Someone talked about using FLL due flights to more cities or something like that.

    So which airport does have more nonstop service to different cities MIA or FLL?

    At least for domestic travel I would almost think FLL.

    • CF says:

      To different cities? I’d bet it’s still Miami thanks to American’s hub. Without American, however, it’s no contest. I don’t have the data in front of me, so that’s my gut feel.

  37. DC says:

    If Ryanair or Norwegian ever make good on their threats to start low cost trans-atlantic service and they fly to southern Florida, the cost per enplanement will become an even hotter issue for existing European carriers at MIA. It won’t be much longer before Norwegian gets their first 787.

  38. ray de la maza says:

    Is DCAD ever going to clean up its act, especially the Cuban mafia commissioners?NO. There is sufficient public evidence of all the shenanigans, especially the North Terminal fiasco, whereby the tax paying citizens of Dade County were raped repeatedly by the corruption at hand, going as far back as the infamous Dick Judy and his gang.
    It breaks my heart to see FLL gain on good ole MIA.If anyone knew how to attract the Emirates,the Etihads or the Qatar Airways buy offering REAL incentives to set up shop, even in spite of the nose bleed landing fees, maybe MIA could stage its own renaissance.MIA is a unique airport in the world in that despite all the expansion, it is still all under one roof, and the capacity to feel like a village community is something that is still not lost, however rough trade you might have from the surly Customs and Immigration staff, even as they “welcome?” back the tax payer americans who pay their salaries.Did I mention TSA? I have worked there for more than 30 years on and off, and am disheartened to see the generalized lack of respect with what should be a living and breathing monument to the beginnings of the airline industry.
    No matter, I still have the wet footprint decals on my luggage, “Follow me to Miami” and will always be a fan of Wilcox Field, no matter what.

  39. tercero says:

    I’m in DTW and it appears that the mismanagement staff from this airport were able to relocate to warmer climate. I fly regulary between DTW/FLL or DTW/MIA and it has always been easier to get resonable fare to FLL. I did not know that there was such a difference in the enplanement fees? Oh well flying isn’t cheep these days, but with this knowledge, I can see where this is headed. MIA has the system and capacity to move aircraft. FLL the little brother that wants to be will be over used putting a strain on the Air Traffic System.

  40. FLL says:

    Mia has been going down the tubes for along time, not only due to it’s rising costs and difficulty of access for local travelers. It’s also having to deal with the fact that FLL continues to better it’s self and make it a more attractive option. I lived in South Florida for 13 years and watched the decline first hand unfold before my eyes. Even the cruise companies have taken note and are moving cruise ships to Ft Lauderdale. Many of my friends in Miami would prefer to drive up to Fort Lauderdale than get across town to MIA.

  41. uhihuhui says:

    A well written rebuttal to this post can be found here:
    http://exmiami.org/threads/even-as-delta-cuts-back-temporarily-mia-has-been-outperforming.121/

    When you look at the statistics, MIA has been outgrowing and outperforming FLL for 8 years now by all metrics.

  42. Pingback: Even as Delta cuts back (temporarily), MIA has been outperforming | exMiami

  43. Pingback: Even as Delta cuts back (temporarily), MIA has been outperforming - exMiami - exMiami

  44. Pingback: Miami’s Unlikely Cost Drop is Good News But Won’t Help Lower Fares - >> The Cranky Flier

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