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The first travelers and crew members were welcomed to Miami International Airport's new international arrivals hub early Tuesday. The airport's deputy director, Ken Pyatt, talks about its "new front door."
The first travelers and crew members were welcomed to Miami International Airport's new international arrivals hub around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The hub's opening is part of the final phase of a long-awaited multi-billion dollar MIA improvement project.
"This is a great day for MIA because our new front door to the world has just opened," said Deputy Director of MIA Ken Pyatt.
The $180 million North Terminal features a brand new 3-level, 400,000-square-foot center twice the size of the existing Concourse E. It can process 2,000 international passengers per hour - twice what the old facility could handle. The new space accommodates a record-breaking number of passengers.
"That's the whole point, our growth has been phenomenal," Pyatt said. "We are the fastest growing airport in the United States right now."
It features a new greeter's lobby and a 72-lane federal inspection area. MIA is one of six U.S. airports with six lanes dedicated to expedited Global Entry processing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers registered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Airport officials expect that passenger processing times will improve by a minimum of twenty minutes.
"Where they check all your identification coming back to the country is a bit different, fast," said traveler Terry Shelby who flew in from Rio De Janeiro.
"It smells like a brand new apartment," said American Airlines flight attendant Ken Dealba.
The North Terminal project will be completed by March 2013 and feature five more baggage carousels and three gates.