Spotlight On: Ralph Cutié, Director & CEO, Miami International Airport

Spotlight On: Ralph Cutié, Director & CEO, Miami International Airport

2022-11-14T14:21:42-05:00November 14th, 2022|Aviation, Miami, Spotlight On, Transportation|

2 min read November 2022 Miami International Airport has experienced explosive growth over the last two years, and it is now No. 1 in the United States for international passengers and  international freight. In an interview with Invest:, Ralph Cutié, director and CEO of MIA, discussed how they have a $6 billion improvement program in progress to account for all of the growth. 

What are the biggest achievements and milestones for MIA in the last year? 

The news here at MIA is very good right now. We are currently the No. 1 airport in the United States for international passengers. We recently surpassed LAX and JFK which are our two main competitors in that arena. We are No. 10 in the U.S. for total passengers. We are currently on pace to break our record from 2019 of annual passengers in one year. Right before COVID, we had 46 million passengers annually. In 2021, we rebounded to 37.3 million. This year we’re on pace to hit 50 million passengers. We are currently the No. 11 airport for international passengers in the world and No. 12 for total passengers. 

Earlier this year, we were the fastest-growing airport in the world. Over the last four to five months, our passenger growth has been around 17% compared to 2019. This is extremely good news on the passenger front.  

On the cargo front, our numbers are similarly outstanding. We are currently the No. 1 airport in the U.S. for international freight. We’re No. 4 in total freight. When you compare us to airports worldwide, we are the ninth-busiest airport for international freight. Miami is in the top 10 for most attractive destinations in the country, so Miami is hot right now. We’re benefiting from that, and we’re excited about the future. 

What are the expansion plans to account for all that growth? 

We currently are engaged in a capital improvement program or CIP. It’s a multibillion dollar program. Currently, it’s over $6 billion, but we are validating our estimates to bring them in line with current market conditions. With changes in labor costs, material cost inflation and supply chain issues that lead to additional costs, our projections are going to be about 30% to 40% higher. The CIP, in a nutshell, is going to be expanding our Central Terminal with additional gates, more lounges, bigger hold rooms, and gate areas in the North Terminal are going to be expanded. The Gate D60 area is a priority project for us that is at the very end of North Terminal. 

So, we have all kinds of capital projects currently in progress to modernize our airport and account for the explosive growth in passengers that we’re seeing now. We are also planning a 400-room hotel, which is expected to be a four-star hotel. That’s going to include a business and conference area where people can come and have business meetings and conferences here. 

We are actively pursuing projects that make the customer experience better. Our No. 1 goal is to make sure our customers are happy when they come through MIA. We’re very excited about this CIP and some of the other programs we have moving forward. 

How is the MIA airport leveraging technology to improve its operations? 

We have to account for all that explosive growth, which we are actively doing with our CIP, and with our customer experience enhancement program. For example, we are working with TSA to provide them with some new outstanding equipment that they can put in their checkpoints to be able to increase throughput through the checkpoints to be able to make the security checkpoints more efficient. We are looking at technology in which the passenger will be scanned with biometrics that allows you to go right onto your plane without having to wait in a long line. 

We’re also pursuing a pilot program, which we call virtual queuing. With that, you can make a reservation for TSA screening similar to how you do for rides at Disney World. You are able to get through the checkpoint at your appointment time without waiting in line. 

We’re being proactive in some of these areas and applying technology as a solution to be able to make our customer experience smoother and to account for the growth we are having. 

What are your top priorities for the airport moving forward? 

The top priority is safety and security. We need to make sure that our airport remains safe. We have an excellent police department and also have two fire stations assigned to the airport. The second is we need to make sure that the experience for all of our passengers here at the airport is always a positive one. The third priority is to make sure that we as an airport are always able to accommodate growth and come up with solutions as the industry grows. 

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