United Airlines Douglas DC-10 • December 1993 • Photo: JetPix

MIAMI — United Airlines celebrated its 60th anniversary of operations at Miami International Airport (MIA). The airline launched flights to South Florida’s main gateway in 1959.

United Airlines DC-10 at Miami International Airport in 1973 • Photo: clipperarctic

The airline’s tenure at MIA has been of highs and lows. After Pan Am ceased operations, United took over its international routes from Miami to Latin America and Europe, purchasing them for $135 million.

By 1992, United’s new Latin American network out of Miami boasted 24 daily departures, which then incremented to 36 by 1994. The airline carried out its sizeable operation from the airport’s Concourse F.

United Airlines Boeing 737-300 • 6 December 1993 • Photo: JetPix

However, the airline’s hub in Miami was dismantled in 2004 after the September 11 attacks hindered the commercial aviation industry in the US. United entered into Chapter 11 and shut down its crew base and Latin American gateway from Miami.

Thousands of employees were furloughed and the airline reduced its fleet size by almost 100 aircraft.

In Miami alone, United furloughed 150 employees when it shut down the base. At the time, the airline announced that “the 99 pilots and 481 flight attendants currently domiciled in Miami will have the opportunity to bid for other assignments within the United system (…) There will be no additional pilot or flight attendant furloughs as a result of this Miami schedule reduction.”

“We deeply regret the impact that this will have on our employees’ lives, but this is a necessary step as we build a more profitable, sustainable network that serves our customers’ needs and concentrates our efforts where we can compete and win,” said John Tague, then United EVP customer.

Photo: Peter Duijnmayer

Before shutting down its Miami hub, United operated a daily Boeing 767 service to Buenos Aires and daily 767 services to Sao Paulo. The airline transferred these services to its hubs in Washington/Dulles and Chicago.

Today, however, United has become MIA’s fourth busiest carrier, transporting over 1.3 million passengers every year in and out of the airport’s terminals.

The airline links MIA with its hubs in Chicago-O’Hare, Houston-Intercontinental, Washington-Dulles, Newark-Liberty, Denver, and San Francisco.

60th Anniversary Celebrations

To celebrate this important milestone, the airline and the airport’s officials held a ceremony at the gate of flight UA2147, where a ribbon was cut in front of passengers, airport staff and airline employees.

The departing aircraft received a water cannon salute from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue before departing to Houston.

“With daily service to top markets like Chicago, Houston, Newark, and Washington D.C.—as well as Denver and San Francisco returning this month—United has helped MIA stay on pace for another record year of passenger traffic in 2019,” said Lester Sola, MIA Director, and CEO.

“We congratulate them on reaching this historic milestone, and we wish them many more successful years in the Miami market.”

Greg Hart, United Airlines Chief Operating Officer, thanked his MIA staff and the airport’s operations team “for a wonderful 60 years,” he said . “I am very proud of the efforts of the team who do a great job demonstrating United’s commitment to and the benefits of connecting people in Miami each and every day.”