Miami International Airport (MIA) welcomed back four airlines serving international routes this month. More will come as international travel restrictions ease, spokesman Greg Chin said.
Mexican carrier Volaris on Aug. 2 started two weekly flights from Guadalajara. The next day, Air Europa resumed weekly service from Madrid. On Aug. 4, Swiss Air Lines began two weekly flights from Zurich. And on Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic began flying thrice weekly to London.
Next up is Aerolíneas Argentina, which should begin three weekly flights to Buenos Aires Sept. 3, six or so months after pausing here, Mr. Chin told Miami Today.
Also in September, Panama’s Copa Airlines will resume service at MIA after five months away. The carrier is now flying citizens back to their home country, Mr. Chin said.
Copa next month plans to again fly, with stopovers in Panama City, from Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica; Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic; Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Santiago de Chile, Chile.
The returning airlines will join 13 that either never stopped servicing MIA or came back since the pandemic began. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Air Lines, United Airlines and LATAM Airlines flew nonstop. Aeromexico, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa, TAP Air Portugal and Turkish Airlines returned later.
MIA before April hosted 61 passenger and 40 cargo carriers, Mr. Chin confirmed.
Daily passenger flows at MIA nearly quintupled between April and July, from 6,000 to 28,000 – or 868,000 total in July, a 78% dip from the year prior.
“The increase in flights shows consumer confidence is growing,” he said. “Health conditions in other parts of the world are improving – it’s also improving here – and as conditions continue to improve and restrictions continue to be relaxed, we’ll see airlines and passengers come back.”
Bringing back business to Miami-Dade’s biggest economic generator relies, in part, on smart and efficient safety measures that can help restore confidence in air travel.
“A number of measures” since the pandemic began include mandatory masks, hundreds of plexiglass shields at all contact areas, increased cleaning by janitorial staff at all touchpoints, social distancing floor markers at queue lines and concession areas, and public address messages reminding people to behave safely, Mr. Chin said.
Early airline safety measures were disjointed, but they’ve since become more uniform, he said.
A Copa press note said all Copa aircraft have high-efficiency filters “that remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria, similar to a hospital’s operating room,” with air circulation systems that renew the airflow “every two to three minutes … vertically, which prevents it from being shared among passengers.” Copa requires all onboard to wear face masks, the note said.
Mr. Chin said such measures, including extensive cleanings, are common.
“American Airlines at the beginning of this month announced the requirement for everyone aged 2 and older to have a face mask,” he said. “Major airlines have added increased deep cleaning between flights and have all those other things [Copa listed] in their modern aircraft.”
Other measures like on-flight social distancing, he said, may vary carrier to carrier.