Topic of the Week: Miami as a Gateway to Africa


We all know Miami is a great gateway for Latin America, but what about Africa? Scott Kirby, soon to be president at American, seems to think there’s a future for American in Africa with Miami as the jumping-off point.

What do you think?

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32 comments on “Topic of the Week: Miami as a Gateway to Africa

  1. There’s a lot of money and people in Asia and US/AA is behind its rivals. Fix that first, and in 5 years time we can talk about Africa

  2. Miami is a longer flight to Accra and Johannesburg than Philadelphia. I don’t know the numbers, but I am guessing that there is more demand in the Northeast for Africa than in the Southeast. If AA wants to serve Africa, it seems to make more sense from PHL. I guess on th other hand, there is more room to expand in MIA, and there would (I guessing) be more Africa demand in Florida than North Carolina, so MIA would be advantageous over CLT… But yeah, Philly seems like the better African gateway.

  3. MIA-LOS and/or MIA-JNB. Nothing else is viable. They could try something via Brazil if they can pick up 5th freedom rights e.g. MIA-REC-Luanda but I don’t exactly know if that will be competitive, much less profitable.

  4. This is such a nonstarter I don’t even know why they brought it up. DL has had mixed results at a much bigger hub with a much larger local market. MIA Africa is a pipe dream that makes PHL-Asia look like a sure thing.

  5. From the story: “We have done some looking at points in Africa, (although) that is speculative and probably a little further down the road,” (Kirby) said.

    That quote is telling. To me, the word “speculative” means Kirby apparently thinks service to Africa might, repeat, might, be a good idea in the future. Looking into a potential opportunity isn’t the same as starting service tomorrow.

    Kirby also mentioned that enhanced service to Asia is a more pressing issue at this point.

    While Miami is farther from Africa than Philadelphia or New York (because it’s farther south and flights would be traversing the “fat” part of the globe) it could also be a unique gateway, and one where American can leverage its strengths.

    It’s always useful to keep one’s options open. Who knows what the situation will be like in five or ten years?

    1. What would be unique about Miami as a gateway? Other than being a hub (like Atlanta for DL, but much smaller), I don’t see any reason to fly to Miami over anywhere in the northeast.

      1. Miami may be better as American’s African gateway simply because it’s not New York, Newark, or Atlanta.

        It’s my view that it’s probably best for American, or any carrier, to have a unique, strong gateway to low traffic areas such as Africa. American has a very strong customer base and hub in Miami. At least in theory, American should be able to leverage its strength in Miami to help build its African business without hemorrhaging too much money in the process.

        It’s not a matter of geography. It’s a matter of traffic and profit potential. The days when airlines competed head-to-head in order to take market share are also the days when airlines routinely filed for bankruptcy protection. Those days appear to be over, or at least I hope they are.

  6. When they say Africa they mean JNB to compete with DL in ATL and LOS. JNB and any large oil city are where the traffic is and AA assumes since it funnels so much traffic into MIA already, that it could just branch off from there to a couple of places.

    JFK has enough travel options to Africa that PHL may not be able to compete with, so AA will use MIA where they rule and not try and compete in PHL with everyone else using JFK.

    When will airlines learn they don’t have to go every where just because someone else goes there? What happen to ‘do what you do best and do it well’. They can’t even compete with DL/UA over the Pacific so maybe their thought is forcus on Latin America and try Africa and see what happens.

  7. This would be an amazing study in perception vs. reality of world geography and distances. Intuitively, seems like MIA is a great stepping off point for US-Africa, but JFK (and PHL, as pointed out) is actually closer to any point in Africa than MIA.

    Would that stop AA? No, of course not. And most people don’t know geography when they stop at DFW on their way IND-SEA — but nonetheless, fascinating quandary to think about.

  8. Is there really enough traffic between the US and Africa to have a hub that doesn’t have enough O&D in addition to what DL has at ATL? That’s the question. I’m not sure how much traffic to Africa originates at MIA. For example, I’m not sure how easy it will be for MIA-LOS to compete with UA’s IAH-LOS.

  9. I think JFK may be better– it is closer, too…. unless AA does intermediate stop somewhere in Brazil or West Africa.

    Or Raleigh Durham for that matter (former hub which still has a daily 767 AA nonstop to LHR) — or even Charlotte with the new American once it is merged.

    Miami airport itself is the pits! Especially immigration area and connections afterwards.

    I avoid it like the plague….

    1. When was the last time you have been through Miami? Since the opening of terminal D for AA, the facilities have improved greatly. The problems with immigration are due to the sequester imposed by the Federal Government, not the airport itself.

  10. Delta had major plans to expand in Africa 3-4 years ago. Granted, the global economy meltdown didn’t help, but it has drastically cut back to only four (4) transatlantic flights (and not all of them daily) from ATL/JFK. If Delta can’t make it work from ATL or JFK, I don’t see how AA/US could make it work from MIA.

  11. I just don’t see this working. First of all, I question whether there is enough O&D traffic in MIA itself to justify service. Which brings up the second problem – if the intent is to pool connections from within the USAA universe and route them through Miami, MIA is a horrible place to connect from an international to a domestic flight. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve gone through there, but immigrations & customs was terrible there even before the sequester (admittedly, it couldn’t be much worse than JFK). After dealing with that experience, I’d be willing to bet that a good number of passengers will find themselves much preferring using UA through IAH instead.

  12. A year ago we wanted to go to cape Town from LAX. The best deal was via Heathrow. Two overnighters, with ice problems; so all weather MIA sounds good.

  13. Speaking of MIA, does anyone watch Airport 24/7: Miami on the Travel Channel? If those are the people in the show that run the airport, makes you want to stay away from MIA.

  14. IAD and JFK seem to be doing the mob well for the East Coast. ORD would be a good selection and LAX for the west coast. MIA just doesn’t seem to fit.

  15. Is everyone right that MIA is more flight miles from Africa than ATL, IAD or JFK? I thought this is why westbound SAA flights from JNB had to fly to MIA or ATL or make the stop at Sal Island? I remember flying to MIA, clearing into the US there and then flying on to JFK. Anyone have an explanation? Thanks

      1. Thanks for the info
        I read the comments below and I do remember, SAA did stop in FLL. In those days, AA had an operating agreement with them (it wasn’t OneWorld) and then they moved to DL and eventually to Star Alliance.

    1. The Miami service came long before oneworld even existed. It was sometime in the early 1990s, I believe, and it did come with a codeshare with American. Eventually, SAA partnered with with Delta and moved flights to Atlanta. (I think at one point, they even served Ft Lauderdale, where their US headquarters remains today.) I did the Atlanta flights in 2003. It was nonstop going to Jo’burg with a stop at Cape Verde Islands on the way back. Then when they joined up with Star, they focused on NYC and Washington.

  16. I could see AA trying 4X weekly MIA-DKR-Johannesburg with 767-300ER’s and/or 3X weekly MIA-Lagos. But not much else. There is some local demand for South Africa from Miami, it is one of the key areas the diaspora moved to. If AA can get it, JFK-Lagos would be a better routing than MIA but when Delta applied, Nigeria denied the application in order to protect Arik Air. Not sure if they would do the same now but my guess is yes. given that Arik is almost the only carrier still flying there.

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