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Public-Private Partnerships as Successful Procurement Vehicles for Airport Infrastructure Upgrades

Diana C. Mendez

A Comparative Analysis of Airport Infrastructure Development through Public-Private Partnerships

Miami International Airport SkytrainHandling over 52.3 million travelers in 2023, the Miami International Airport ("MIA") has emerged as a leading hub for international passenger traffic in the U.S. With the aviation industry's increasing demand for advanced infrastructure, MIA's ambitious plans for infrastructure renovation have highlighted the role of Public-Private Partnerships (“P3s”) as an effective model for delivering airport infrastructure upgrades. This article aims to explore the successful implementation of P3s in airport infrastructure development, drawing insights from prominent case studies such as the LaGuardia Airport Terminal B Replacement Project and its applicability to MIA's modernization initiatives.

In response to the growing demand for enhanced infrastructure, the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department has launched the Modernization in Action (M.I.A.) Plan, which outlines critical investments in upgrading MIA's facilities. The plan encompasses various priority areas, including the renovation of conveyance units, passenger loading bridges, restroom facilities, electrical infrastructure upgrades, and the restoration of the Skytrain. Additionally, the Board of County Commissioners has adopted a comprehensive capital improvement program that earmarks up to $7 billion for airport-wide modernization projects over the next decade. The infusion of $27 million in federal funding further underscores the commitment to addressing MIA's infrastructure needs.

The LaGuardia Airport Terminal B Replacement Project, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), serves as a benchmark for successful airport infrastructure development through P3s. The $4 billion project, initiated as a P3 in 2016, achieved groundbreaking results, featuring a new parking garage, 8 miles of roadways, a state-of-the-art Arrivals and Departures Hall, pedestrian sky-bridges, and a substantial increase in contact gates. The project's innovative approach, in collaboration with private partners, culminated in its recognition as the best new airport in the world by UNESCO.

Inspired by the success of the LaGuardia project, other jurisdictions are looking at P3s as effective vehicles to deliver critical infrastructure updates in a timely manner. For example, recently the Illinois legislature enacted House Bill 2531, mandating the prequalification process for P3s for the South Suburban Airport. The legislation reflects a strategic move to leverage private funding and expertise for critical infrastructure development, aligning with the principles of successful P3s.

The achievements of the LaGuardia Airport Terminal B Replacement Project and the enactment of P3 legislation in Illinois offer valuable insights for MIA's infrastructure modernization initiatives. The use of P3s as a strategic procurement vehicle to harness private capital, expertise, and operational efficiencies has proven instrumental in delivering world-class airport facilities. As MIA remains committed to enhancing its facilities, the adoption of P3s can position the airport as a global leader in aviation infrastructure. By leveraging private capital and expertise, MIA can achieve its modernization aspirations, ensuring its facilities remain at the forefront of the aviation industry.

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