MIAMI – Miami-Dade County, Florida is home to Miami International Airport (MIA), a global cargo hub, but it could potentially be set to receive another airport for cargo operations in the form of a conversion of the Homestead Air Reserve Base in the southern part of the county, according to the Miami Herald.
On Thursday, Miami-Dade county commissioners unanimously agreed to negotiate with the Air Force to attain a joint-use agreement allowing for a fixed base operator (FBO) to provide fuel and general aviation services for small aircraft.
The commissioners also add amendment banning cargo flights from the airport but environmentalists, skeptical of the nearby FedEx facility and planned Amazon distribution center, believe the creation of a cargo airport is still in the realm of possibility.
It is important to note that the amendment inserted the language, “limiting the allowable uses for the property to general aviation operations and services only,” into the proposed joint-use agreement.
A Lasting Controversy
The proposal to turn use the Homestead Air Reserve Base as a general aviation airport has revived fears from decades ago when the county proposed a complete commercial and cargo facility there. This especially concerned environmentalists due to the close proximity of the airport to both Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park.
“Moving to use the military base for private operations opens Pandora’s box,” attorney Paul Schwiep, representing the nonprofit Friends of the Everglades, said in a statement. Schwiep added, “Private air traffic, and the noise pollution, air pollution, increased air traffic and wildlife impacts it will create, plus the suburban sprawl it will spawn, should be flatly prohibited on the Base given its proximity between two National Parks.”
Commissioner Dennis Moss, the primary supporter of the planned expansion of the base, said the proposal has no connection with the Amazon operation in Miami-Dade as it has been in the works since 2014 prior to the company purchasing land in the area.
While both Amazon and FedEx have declined requests by the Miami Herald to comment on the development, many believe that opening up the airport to general aviation provides an eventual pathway for commercial cargo flights to the airport.
Featured image: Nathan Coats from Seattle, WA, United States of America – Prime Air, CC BY-SA 2.0