mia_demolish_web.jpgMIAMI — A day after Miami International Airport’s new automated North Terminal baggage handling system completed its final 105 days of observation, the airport began to dismantle its former 20-year-old system with a demolition ceremony led by Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director José Abreu.

The new inline baggage system, one of the largest of its kind in the U.S., has the capacity to screen and transport 6,400 bags per hour from North Terminal’s 152 ticket counters to all 50 of the facility’s aircraft gates.  Since the system began full operation in March, it has successfully handled more than three million bags (approximately 32,000 per day) and met performance specifications.

Comprised of 22 explosive detection machines and 12 miles of conveyor belts, the $220-million system electronically scans an identification tag on each bag and automatically directs the bag to its assigned gate for departure. 

The milestone allowed the Aviation Department on July 2 to begin demolishing the former system, which relied on tug carts to drive bags from a central baggage shed to each aircraft. Removing the 100,000-square-foot baggage shed from North Terminal also allows for final completion of the facility’s remaining areas by March 2013: the last three of Concourse D’s 50 gates; the new international arrivals facility, scheduled to partially open on July 31 at 94 percent completion; and full connection of the new baggage system to all 10 of the international arrival facility’s baggage claim carousels.

“This is probably the most significant milestone in the history of North Terminal,” said Director Abreu. “The baggage system is the brain of this 3.5-million-square-foot facility, connecting all 50 gates, and without it North Terminal would not function effectively.  The finish line for total completion is now in sight.”

Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County