A sea-to-air program at Miami International Airport could help increase distribution of fresh produce throughout the world.
The Miami airport — one of the busiest international air freight ports of entry — could soon get busier as it becomes capable of receiving perishable ocean freight imports.
In September, the airport received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the ocean-to-air pilot program. The first ocean-to-air transshipment is expected before the end of the year, according to a news release. The addition should mark a first for a Florida airport, according to the release.
Miami-based Customized Brokers, a subsidiary of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Crowley Maritime Corp. Inc., worked with the airport to win approval in the program which allows the logistics firm to coordinate ocean shipments of perishable products from Latin America to PortMiami or Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Crowley can then transport the shipments to the Miami airport where shipments will leave by air via KLM Cargo or Centurion Cargo to destinations in Asia and Europe, according to the release.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has also granted first-ever approval for expedited processing of ocean shipments before their air departures, according to the release. The program was designed to save cargo shippers time and money, according to the release. Cargo shippers are scheduled to receive expedited air transport for perishable products and will not be required to pay Customs duties, according to the release. The program was designed to also allow European and Asian households to receive Latin America produce at the peak of freshness, extending in some cases the seasonality for certain available items, according to the release.
“We deeply appreciate the USDA and CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) for recognizing the value of this pilot program to both the local and national economy,” Emilio González, Miami-Dade aviation director, said in the release. “Cargo shippers now have an additional, expedited channel for transporting perishables through the U.S., which incentivizes them to do more business at MIA and PortMiami — two of our state’s strongest economic engines. The pilot program also continues our efforts to grow cargo at MIA through outside-the-box initiatives.”
Crowley and Customized Brokers seeks ways to help speed its customers’ products to market and help grow their distribution footprint, Kimberly Wakeman, Customized Brokers’ vice president, said in the release.
“This pilot program follows wins that we’ve had in securing additional entry points in South Florida, South Carolina and Savannah for certain perishables entering the U.S. from Central and South America,” she said in the release. “This further expands the distribution of fresh produce into supermarkets across the globe.”
The seaports additional cargo will help increase the 1.92 million tons of international air freight the airport handles a year, according to the release.
Miami International is the busiest U.S. freight airport and the world’s 10th-busiest, according to the release.