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Miami International Is Now the Busiest Airport in Florida

More than 50 million passengers passed through MIA in 2022, over 60 percent of which flew with American Airlines

by Fergus Cole

February 8, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Miami International Airport

A record-breaking 50.6 million passengers passed through Miami International Airport (MIA) in 2022, making it the busiest airport in Florida for the first time in six years.

MIA exceeded expectations last year, seeing even more passengers pass through its gates than in 2019, which scored the previous record of 45.9 million passengers. According to Miami-Dade County officials, almost 5 million extra passengers were logged in 2022.

The new record makes MIA the busiest airport in Florida, surpassing Orlando International Airport (MCO), which saw 50.1 million passengers in 2022.

Photo: Courtesy of Miami International Airport

The Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, said the record-breaking number of passengers had hugely benefited the region’s tourism industry, much of which had struggled during the early months of the pandemic.

“Those 50.6 million passengers represent more than just a big number,” said Levine Cava. “These are millions of guests in our community who are supporting our hotels, our restaurants and other businesses, and most importantly, creating jobs right here in Miami-Dade County.”

While the near-total shutdown of global air traffic in 2020 caused the number of international visitors to drop significantly, Florida’s relatively relaxed COVID restrictions, along with its year-round good weather, helped the state to see a surge in domestic tourists.

Photo: Courtesy of Miami International Airport

However, while U.S. travelers are largely behind MIA’s record-breaking year, the airport still sees fewer international visitors than pre-pandemic levels. For example, 29.3 million of the 50.6 million passengers that passed through Miami in 2022 were from the U.S., while 21.3 million were from overseas—roughly a million fewer international visitors than in 2019.

Big International Numbers

But although foreign visitors have been somewhat slow to return, Miami still had the most international passengers of any airport in the U.S. in 2022. It was also ranked as the busiest airport in the U.S. regarding international freight and fourth in total cargo.

MIA has long been a major hub connecting the southeastern U.S. with the Caribbean and Latin America. The airport also saw fifteen new routes in 2022, including to Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, and Europe.

Air Canada, Frenchbee, and Aer Lingus launched international flights to MIA in 2022, among other carriers. The Canadian airline re-launched nonstop flights to Vancouver after an 18-year hiatus, while the French low-cost airline introduced direct flights to Paris-Orly. Irish carrier, Aer Lingus, resumed its direct flight to Dublin, and Avianca—Colombia’s flag carrier—opened new, nonstop flights to Bucaramanga and Pereira.

Photo: El Al, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Miami International Airport. Courtesy of Andrés Dallimonti / Unsplash

American Airlines (AA)—the dominant airline at MIA—also saw record numbers of passengers last year. Around 31.2 million passengers flew with the airline at MIA last year, about 61.6 percent of the airport’s total number of visitors. The airline also increased its route to Tel Aviv (TLV) to daily with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Cautious Growth

While officials at Miami-Dade County were celebrating its airport’s record-breaking year, some were urging caution about the year ahead in the face of economic challenges.

“I want to challenge all of us, because we all want to be back in this position next year,” said a cautious David Whitaker, CEO of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We can’t go back, we are No. 1 now, and No. 1 feels good, but we can’t become No. 3 or No. 7. We can’t take this success for granted.”

Figures for January show that MIA is in a good position going forward. Around 4.5 million passengers passed through the airport last month, surpassing the 4.2 million passengers who flew through the airport in January 2020.