Miami International Airport is back to pre-pandemic figures, and in May it reported an average of 150,000 passengers per day, compared to 126,000 during its record-setting year in 2019.
As the growth is welcomed, a spike in passenger traffic is putting pressure on the Aviation Department to cope with the parking needs over the weekends. For instance, staff has been monitoring the parking capacity and publishing through its website and social media the status of the facilities, so that travelers can plan appropriately where to park prior to arriving at the airport.
A report of the greatest investment needs prepared by the department, presented to county commissioners this week, notes that each parking garage reached capacity at least once for four continuous weekends during the first quarter of this year. In 2019, MIA saw 51% domestic passengers and 49% international travelers; while in 2021, trends changed and the airport now has 65% of domestic passengers and 35%of international passengers.
“Air travelers are now flying more often for shorter periods of time and utilizing the parking garages more frequently,” says the document. Miami Today confirmed last Friday that by 4:10 a.m. the Dolphin Garage’s first level was at around 70% of capacity.
Currently, the airport has parking facilities in five designated areas for a total of 8,220 parking spaces, with 21 garage entrances.
The Dolphin Garage provides 4,472 parking spaces including 57 for tall vehicles; the Flamingo Garage has 2,993 parking spaces; the Park 6 garage has 379 parking spaces and is being re-designed to add additional parking spots; and the Park 1 Deck garage provides 319 parking spaces, the report details.
As a result, the department relocated 1,800 airport employees that used to park in the Dolphin and Flamingo garages to other parking facilities outside MIA’s Terminal buildings in May, freeing up about 500 parking spaces per day.
The airport is also undergoing a design effort to create 1,861 new parking spaces in the Park 6 garage. Construction is set to begin in March 2023, and it is expected to be completed by July 2025, for a total cost of $85.9 million as part of the $5 billion Capital Improvement Program.
The airport completed a new $7.2 million Parking and Revenue Control System in March that completed the installation of signage at the entry of the Dolphin and Flamingo garages that displays the number of available spaces, and signage on each garage level to guide customers to the available parking spaces.
As Miami Today reported last September, the design of the project includes 16 “Pay-On-Foot” Systems in centralized areas throughout the Dolphin and Flamingo garages combined with “Find-My-Car” locators to help customers find their cars.