The hottest special-interest saga these days at County Hall may be the fight for the coveted baggage-wrapping contract at Miami International Airport.
The latest chapter involves two competitors with such over-the-top dislike for each other that one accuses the other of hiding his finances and compares him to the Miami Marlins. The second likens his firm to John Wayne and counters that his rival has business ties to Cuba.
“It just seems like a movie,” MIA Director José Abreu said. “I don’t know anything else that is more controversial than baggage wrap.”
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade commissioners are scheduled to award the lucrative 10-year contract to TrueStar USA.
TrueStar is a corporate venture between the airport’s current vendor, Sinapsis Trading USA, and its giant Italian parent, TrueStar Group SpA. In 2010, Sinapsis ousted rival Secure Wrap of Miami, which had held the exclusive baggage-wrapping rights for nine years. Both companies wrap passengers’ baggage with clingy plastic, to prevent theft of the contents.
Sinapsis won after guaranteeing to pay a minimum $11.1 million a year to the county-owned airport — compared to Secure Wrap’s $4.1 million-a-year bid, which was nearly four times more than what the company had historically paid the county.
A year ago, Sinapsis asked the county to reduce its minimum annual fee to $8.7 million, saying its business had been hurt when Secure Wrap began wrapping baggage at locations outside the airport.