PortMiami is about to unveil a record-breaking number of cruise passengers, Miami International Airport has already broken passenger records, and both are enroute to major modernizations to prepare for growing demand, leaders of both told a lunch crowd last week.
At the State of Global Ports Luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, they detailed what’s ahead.
“We’re working towards finalizing and getting ready to open up our new shore power program, which is a big initiative from our mayor to decarbonize and let our ships plug into a local grid when they’re along port,” said Hydi Webb, director and CEO of PortMiami. “We’re going to have shore power at five of our cruise terminals where three [ships] can plug in at any given time.
“That’s a big strategy on the cruise side, and then for our NetZero program,” she said, “we are decarbonizing all of the cargo operations throughout the whole entire supply chain as well.”
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s initiative to bring shore power to PortMiami began in February 2021. Shore power allows cruise ships, when docked at the port, to turn off their primary engines and hook into a local power grid. This results in reduced air emissions. Mayor Levine Cava took to the stage to close the luncheon and spoke on shore power in PortMiami.
“And just to say as an example of problem solving,” said the mayor, “I learned about shore power when I was a county commissioner. I said I got to have it. And at the time, [the county was] not so receptive. Guess what, got to be mayor, now we have shore power.”
A collaboration between PortMiami and MSC cruises was cited as well as the project’s completion date.
“As you all drive down MacArthur Causeway heading to Miami Beach on the east side of the port I’m sure that you see under construction what will be the world’s largest cruise” terminal, said Ms. Webb at the luncheon. “We’re building it in conjunction with MSC cruises. It will be ready next year. It’s going to be able to accommodate three cruise vessels at the same time, the largest cruise vessels from two different cruise lines.”
PortMiami, long labeled the cruise capital of the world, will be breaking records and has fully rebounded from the pandemic, Ms. Webb said.
“Prior to the pandemic the Port of Miami had its best year ever,” she said. “We welcomed 6.8 million cruise passengers. I am pleased to tell you that although our numbers have not been released yet, you are going to see a new world record from your PortMiami.”
PortMiami’s economic impact on the county is about $43 billion annually and creates 335,000 jobs, she said, an economic impact similar to that of Miami International Airport.
MIA is the county’s number one economic engine, said Ralph Cutié, aviation director and CEO of Miami International Airport. The airport has a $32 billion impact and supports 300,000-plus jobs annually, he said.
“We’re currently rolling out our $7 billion, 15-year capital improvement program,” said Mr. Cutié. “That’s a 15-year program, which is going to expand our terminals, add additional gates, modernize older terminals, etc.”
“So,” he said “it’s something we’re very excited about. Concurrently with that, we’re also rolling out what we call our Modernization in Action Program, and under that program we are right now replacing all of our passenger loading bridges, which are the tunnels that connect aircraft to terminal, and we’re well on our way on that. I think we’ve replaced about 36 of them and another 30 will be replaced over the next couple of years. We have 126 total, so by the year I think 2029 we’ll have them all replaced.”
The 15-year capital improvement program will contribute to MIA’s future passengers and Miamians when they take future flights, he said.
“One thing that will happen is our capital improvement program, by modernizing and expanding our terminal, we’ll be able to accommodate additional passenger traffic,” Mr. Cutié said. “So, we set a record last year, we had 50.7 million passengers. Our long-term projections are that we’ll be at 77 million by the year 2040.”
“That’s why we’re rolling out this program now,” he said, “because we need to be proactive and plan ahead so we can go ahead and accommodate that future growth of passengers.”