(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- Miami International Airport (MIA) this month was named one of the 10 best airports in America in 2011 by the readership of Travel and Leisure magazine, who rated U.S. airports on their facilities, services and overall attributes (see http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-and-worst-airports/22). Additionally, after a record-breaking year for passenger traffic in 2011, MIA surged to a new record in the first quarter of 2012 with the most passengers ever during that period. More than 10.2 million travelers passed through MIA in the first three months of the year for an increase of 9.5 percent over the same period last year. Through March, international passenger traffic increased by 11 percent and domestic passengers grew 8.1 percent over last year. In the last two quarters, MIA has overtaken New York's JFK Airport as the U.S. airport with the most international flights. According to a preliminary report from Airports Council International, MIA was also the 18th busiest passenger airport worldwide for the month of January, moving up from 26th in calendar year 2011 (see http://www.airports.org/cda/aci_common/display/main/aci_content07_c.jsp?zn=aci&cp=1-5-212-218-222_666_2__).
Increased service by hub carrier American Airlines, two new airlines and growth by carriers from Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe have all contributed to MIA's surge in passenger traffic. In February, LAN Colombia launched new service between Miami and Bogotá with four weekly non-stop flights. Also in February, low-cost carrier Interjet began daily non-stop service to Mexico City from MIA. Additionally, American Airlines began five weekly flights to Barcelona in April and will increase to daily service in June. On April 4, American added another daily flight to Kingston, bringing its total number of daily non-stop flights between Miami and Kingston to four during the summer season. Additionally, during the first two months of 2012, carriers operating from Latin American and Caribbean markets recorded a collective increase of more than 13 percent as compared to 2011, while MIA's European airlines saw traffic grow more than 26 percent collectively.
More expansion is on the way at MIA this summer with new carrier Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) commencing daily non-stop service from Curaçao, Netherland Antilles on May 11, and Brazilian low-cost carrier GOL beginning five weekly passenger flights from Sao Paulo, Brazil via Caracas, Venezuela effective June 29. Also in June, American Airlines will increase service on its Brasilia and Belo Horizonte routes to daily flights and launch new daily service to Manaus, Brazil and Seattle, Washington.