Why Florida's Miami International Airport is thriving

Chris Sloan, our man in America, examines the factors behind explosive growth at the South Florida gateway

This story is personal for me. Miami International Airport (MIA) is my hometown airport. It’s where my love for aviation spooled up. As a kid, I would run up and down the central terminal collecting timetables and peering out of the concourse windows at the motley collection of exotic airlines and funky old aircraft, with AvGeeks of a certain age fondly remembering the former ‘Corrosion Corner’. Even to this day, plane-spotters flock to MIA from around the world to photograph the fascinating mix of traffic, while of course soaking up some of that famous Floridian sunshine.

A Pan American World Airways Douglas DC-4 in Miami in 1950. Prior to its collapse, the airline was a major player in the South Florida aviation scene
AirTeamImages.com/ATI Collection

This colourful airport has been both rhapsodised and ridiculed. Images of a chaotic, dank, overcrowded mess are as outdated as Miami Vice’s pastel shirts. Perception is finally catching up to reality. MIA has emerged as one of the continent’s premier gateways – raising many an eyebrow by winning the 2021 JD Power Award for ‘best mega airport in North America’.

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