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State Series: Florida

American Airlines B737 on Approach into Miami International Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks.com | Joe Pesek)

Since the creation of the first airport in 1909 by Wilbur Wright, cities and states have come together to create one of the most expansive airport systems in the world. Over the next few months, our writers have taken an in-depth look at each state to see what airports it has to offer, what its history entails, and what changes we can expect in the future that will continue to shape the airline industry.

“The Sunshine State” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. In 2014 alone, Florida had a record 97 million tourists visit. In addition to this, Florida is a major business and financial center in the United States relying on strong connections to South America. This allows airports to play a large role in keeping the Sunshine State moving.


Miami International Airport – Miami, FL (MIA)

Miami International, popularly known as MIA, is the busiest airport in the state of Florida and the tenth busiest airport in the United States. Currently it is a major hub for American Airlines, who have exclusive use of the airports north terminal. A majority of American’s South American operations are based at Miami, and because of this the airport ranks first in international flights and second in volume of international passengers in the United States. The airline has seen this growth due to strong tourist traffic, strong local populations of Europeans and Latin Americans, and the airport’s strategic location between Europe and South America.

Presently at MIA there is three terminals; The North Terminal, The Central Terminal, and the South Terminal. The North Terminal has one concourse, Concourse D, and is only used by American Airlines. The terminal features a Skytrain to whisk passengers the length of the terminal. The Central Terminal consists of Concourses E, F, and G. Concourse E serves American’s Oneworld partners at MIA and has 18 gates and can accommodate British Airway’s A380 service. Concourse F serves mainly the airports European and Canadian carriers, while Concourse G serves mostly international charter departures, as well as Frontier and United Airlines. The South Terminal consists of Concourses H and J and mainly caters to the airlines South American carriers. Concourse H also houses Delta’s operations at MIA as well as most of their Skyteam partners.

Orlando International Airport – Orlando, FL (MCO)

Orlando International Airport, in central Florida, is Florida’s second busiest airport. The airport is boosted, like most of Orlando, by the influence of Disney World. Mickey and friends bring in thousands of tourist each year to Orlando, including many from overseas. Orlando also serves the cruise ships departing from nearby Cape Canaveral. Housed on the airport is jetBlue’s jetBlue U, where the airline trains its new employees. Florida’s own Silver Airways uses Orlando as a hub, and the airport is also a focus city for jetBlue, Southwest and Frontier.

Presently at Orlando there are two terminals with four concourses. The landside area for the terminals is shared in one central building, with trams connecting passengers to the airside concourses. Terminal A is on the north side of the building and is linked with Airsides 1 and 2. The terminals houses the low cost operations for jetBlue, Southwest, Frontier and Virgin America. It also houses many of the airports South American carriers, as well as Aer Lingus and Westjet. Terminal B is on the south side of the building and is connected to Airsides 3 and 4. The American majors of American, Delta, and United as well as ultra low-cost carrier Spirit, call Terminal B home. The terminal is also home to most of the European carriers that serve the Orlando area, as well as Air Canada and Air Transat.

Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport – Ft. Lauderdale, FL (FLL)

Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, known locally as FLL, is Florida’s third busiest airport. Recently the airport has become home to the low-cost carriers of South Florida. Ft. Lauderdale is home to Spirit Airlines’ largest base and the second largest base for jetBlue Airways. The airport not only serves local tourist traffic to South Florida but also serves passengers for cruises departing from nearby Port Everglades.

The airport is divided into four terminals in a “U” shape, similar to the design of MIA. Terminal 1 is divided into two concourses, B and C, and houses Southwest’s significant FLL operations. Recently construction has started on a new Concourse A in Terminal 1, to serve Southwest’s international expansion plans for South Florida. In Concourse B, United, Virgin America, Westjet, Alaska, and Silver Airways share facilities. Terminal 2 is exclusively used by Delta Airlines and their partner Air Canada, and only features one concourse, D. Half of Terminal 3 is dominated by jetBlue, who recently announced plans to expand to 140 flights a day from FLL. Also in the other side or Terminal 3 is American, Bahamasair, Azul and Dynamic. Cape Air also utilize one gate in Terminal 3 for their seaplane service to Bimini. Terminal 4 is home to Spirit’s South Florida hub, as well as the international carriers at FLL. This includes South American carriers such as Avianca and TAME, as well as Canadian charters Air Transat and Sunwing.

Tampa International Airport – Tampa, FL (TPA)

Tampa International Airport is the Gulf Coast’s major airport, enticing travellers from Bradenton up to the Dunedin. The majority of airport travellers are tourists visiting the Gulf Coast’s beaches, as well as business people from the Tampa area’s local businesses. It is currently the fourth busiest airport in the Sunshine State. A unique feature of the airports past was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers headquarters were located adjacent to the airport for a majority of the team’s history. The airport feeds the Tampa Bay’s other cities such as St. Petersburg and Clearwater across the Bay from Tampa.

The airport is laid out similarly to Orlando International with a central landside terminal connected to four airside piers. The airport is a hub for Silver Airways as well as a focus city for Southwest. As such, Southwest owns the largest market share for traffic from Tampa. The airline also has international operations to Europe and South America. British Airways has daily service to TPA from Gatwick, Edelweiss serves the large Swiss city of Zurich, and Lufthansa links the city to their hub in Frankfurt.

Other Airports

Palm Beach International is located up the coast from Ft. Lauderdale and is a quieter alternative to the busier southern airports, with service to most major American cities. St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport  is located across the bay from Tampa and is a focus city for Allegiant Airlines, who are the airport’s only operators apart from seasonal charters. Tallahassee International Airport serves the state capital as well as students for Florida State University. The airport has service to Atlanta, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Charlotte, Dallas, Orlando, and Tampa. Southwest Florida International Airport in Ft. Meyers serves the southwestern portion of the state. The airport mainly serves tourists and has service to most major cities in the United States, as well as seasonal international service to Canada and Germany.

Daniel Morley


  • Daniel Morley

    Daniel has always had aviation in his life; from moving to the United States when he was two, to family vacations across the U.S., and back to his native England. He currently resides in South Florida and attends Nova Southeastern University, studying Human Factors in Aviation. Daniel has his Commercial Certificate for both land and sea, and hopes to one day join the major airlines.

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