TOTALLY agree with what you are saying. MIA is by all means the US airport where North does meet South. However, for locals, different story. Almost all my co-workers and people in my neighborhood used FLL or PBI. Yes some locals used MIA, but trust me, it was the exception. (and this was living on the Dade/Broward line).
As for FLL - I'm a New Yorker, and many of my friends travel to "Miami" very often. By a significant margin, they fly into FLL. As do I, when I head down to South Florida maybe once or twice a year. MIA and FLL are largely interchangeable in terms of convenience for those heading to the area. And I would argue that FLL's catchment is much more significant than MIA's - being 20 miles closer to large towns like Pompano Beach or Boca Raton or even Palm Beach can make a huge difference in attracting O&D traffic to and from the area.
Indeed, but again, it very much depends on the "neighborhood" and "locals" in question. There are clearly lots
of "locals" - to say nothing of visitors - that consciously and intentionally choose to fly in and out of MIA vs FLL. As said, though - there is definitely no question that a significant and unique market demand exists for FLL, just as is the case for MIA.
Re AA in the Caribbean - I agree it remains the "top dog" carrier, but this status is increasingly reliant on MIA, and potentially service from CLT, PHL, ORD, or DFW. Meanwhile, B6 serves most Caribbean markets from both FLL and JFK, and perhaps from BOS and MCO.
Indeed. AA is clearly laser-focused on MIA, and AA has pretty deftly transitioned in the last decade from the critical mass of its Caribbean presence being a mix of JFK, MIA and SJU to a near-total reliance on MIA. All that said, seeing what AA has managed to accomplish in MIA, coupled with what has happened to the SJU/Puerto Rico market in that time, I think it's hard to argue that this was probably a smart move. As for JetBlue, it is certainly true that going back to the period after deregulation, there has pretty much always been a major "second carrier" competitive force in the U.S.-Caribbean market after
long-dominant AA. At one point that "second carrier" was arguably Eastern or Pan Am. By the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, it was looking like TWA. And then TWA went bankrupt, and in the immediate aftermath AA was at its absolute zenith in the Caribbean - virtually unchallenged by any serious peer competitor. And then JetBlue came along. JetBlue is now clearly #2 in the Caribbean.
Kinda but SJU roll and importance to AA is a lot different then back then. Americans Vacation habits, traffic flows, and now we have more AA choices CLT MIA to go through. I never hear of people going to Puerto Rico for vacations. Its economy has been in the dumps.