As increased cut-flower shipments arrive daily at Miami International Airport (MIA), the airport continues to strengthen its established reputation as the premier floral gateway in the U.S. for flowers exported worldwide. Cut flowers represent MIA’s top import commodity, with 2018 airport statistics reporting that 88.7 percent of all U.S. cut-flower imports – a total of 231,046 tons of flowers – were transported in and out of MIA. Overall, total flower shipments have increased by 3 percent since 2017, due to growing consumer/market demands.
Founded in 1928, Miami International Airport currently sits on 3,230 acres in Miami-Dade County. As the largest of the five airports operated by the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, it boasts a lineup of more than 100 air carriers and is the top U.S. airport for international freight. The airport and related aviation industries contribute 270,681 jobs directly and indirectly to the local economy. MIA is also the leading economic source for Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida, generating business revenues of $30.9 billion annually. With such an impressive résumé, MIA is often seen as the first and only choice for shipments of time- and temperature-sensitive flowers bound for the consumer market. According to statistics from the Association of Floral Importers of Florida (AFIF), approximately 40,000 boxes of flowers arrive at MIA each day (more during high-demand periods for flowers such as prior to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day), with airport infrastructure designed to maintain the cold chain as the flowers await further travel to their final destinations.
Ernesto Rodriguez, section chief of Marketing at MIA, described the typical process for flowers after they arrive at MIA. “Due to the sensitivity to time, temperature and treatment, the flowers remain at MIA for only a short period before heading to their final destinations,” he said. “Upon arrival, the flowers are offloaded, with no waiting time on the tarmac from the aircraft to the cooling facility; inspected; and transported via trucks to their final destinations.”