How PortMiami is growing to accommodate bigger vessels and larger volumes
Juan M. Kuryla Port Director & CEO – PortMiami
What were the major highlights for PortMiami in 2016?
If you look at our business model and our achievements in 2016, we had a very strong year for both cruise and cargo. It was the first time in 11 years that more than 1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) have passed through the port two years in a row. That is a big accomplishment. We entered into our first private-public partnership with Royal Caribbean to build a large cruise terminal. It will be funded, operated and maintained by Royal Caribbean. We also received commitments from almost all cruise lines to renew their agreements and build upon their 2016 volumes at the port. We saw some steady cargo volumes in 2016. We are excited about 2017 in terms of seeing larger vessels come to the port of Miami because of the completed Deep Dredge and expanded Panama Canal projects. Panama deepened its canal, which allows larger ships to go through. Today PortMiami is the only port south of Virginia that can accommodate the largest ships that are laden and can go through the canal. We are already receiving larger ships transiting via the Canal.
What are the expectations for the cruise terminal? What are better ways the port can better its infrastructure?
One project that has been approved by the county commission is with Royal Caribbean. They are going to fund, construct, operate and maintain probably the largest terminal in the U.S. It will be able to berth the largest cruise vessels that exist today. That terminal and the commitments from Royal Caribbean, as a result of that construction, should take us from about 5 million cruise passengers to 6 million by the fiscal year 2018 to 2019.
With the completion of recent projects, such as the Panama Canal project, how has the cargo sector economically impacted Miami-Dade?
We are seeing an incredible investment that was put on the table by our elected leadership that allows us to invest in the port. We have received unanimous support from our mayor, our board and our governor, with a commitment of more than $100 million to fund the dredge and other projects. Recent figures say the port represents more than 207,000 jobs with an economic impact of around $28-billion impact. Those numbers were generated when we were doing about 20 percent less volume in cargo and 25 percent less for cruises. We anticipate our economic impact that we will be well above that.
What has the PortMiami’s 2035 Master Plan achieved so far?
In 2011, the board approved the 2035 Master Plan, and requested installation of additional cranes, which we have completed. They also mentioned the additional cruise ship berths, which we are building. We are beating the projections, particularly on the cruise side. By 2021, there’s going to be close to 7 million passengers per year. According to the plan, Miami was not supposed to experience that many until the late 2020s. This means we have to speed the project up.