Buffalo Niagara International Airport
|Owner/Operator||Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority|
|Serves||Buffalo metropolitan area, Golden Horseshoe|
|Location||4200 Genesee Street|
Town of Cheektowaga
|Elevation AMSL||728 ft / 222 m|
Buffalo Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUF, ICAO: KBUF, FAA LID: BUF) is in Cheektowaga,New York. The airport serves Buffalo, New York, United States, and the southern Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario, Canada. It is the third-busiest airport in the state of New York and the busiest outside of the New York City metropolitan area. It is about 11 mi (18 km) east of Downtown Buffalo and 60 mi (97 km) southeast of Toronto (although driving distance is 106 mi (171 km)). The airport covers 1,000 acres (4 km²).
Buffalo Municipal Airport (as it was then known) opened in 1926 on former farmland, making it one of the country's oldest public airports. The original airport included a small terminal building, one hangar, and four cinder runways, each 3,000 feet long by 100 feet wide. Passenger and mail service began in December 1927, with service to Cleveland. A WPA-built Art Deco v-shaped terminal with a large cylindrical tower began construction in 1938 and was completed in 1939. In 1940-41 Curtiss Aeroplane Co. built a manufacturing hangar on the southeast side of the airport (current Buffalo Airport Center property). With the onset of World War II, the airport was expanded to facilitate aircraft manufacturing, test and acceptance flight activity, and airline flights. The airport had four paved runways:
|Runway||Length (ft)||Width (ft)|
|13-31 (now 14-32)||5,730||150|
A new apron was added a few months later. Roadway and parkway improvements were made in the 1940s and 50s. Runways 1-19 and 8-26 were closed in the 1950s, and Runway 13-31 was renamed Runway 14-32.
The terminal's first expansion, to 11 gates, which tripled the terminal's square footage and added a restaurant, was built in 1955. In 1959, after being acquired by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), the name was changed to the Greater Buffalo International Airport. A 1961 renovation/expansion remodeled the main terminal building and built a new control tower and another concourse for American Airlines. The first scheduled jets were American and United 727s in 1965; Runway 5-23 was extended northeast from 5645 to 8100 feet later that year. A second terminal (the "West Terminal") was built in 1971 while it was hoped an all-new airport would be built in the near future. The West Terminal was built to last ten years and had nine gates.
Despite the addition of the West Terminal, the original terminal, the "East Terminal", received one more expansion in 1977. New ticket lobbies were built for American Airlines and United Airlines, the original 1938 building was turned into a baggage claim area and jetways were added for the first time. In 1982 two gates were added to the north/east end of the West Terminal, used by Eastern Air Lines. The landside of the West Terminal was also enlarged and the originally blue building was around that time repainted gray.
A large Curtiss-Wright plant once existed at the Airport. Built in 1942, the building was sold to Westinghouse in 1946 after the end of World War II. Westinghouse sold the facility to Buffalo developer Paul Snyder in 1985, who turned the building into the Buffalo Airport Center industrial park. The building was abandoned in 1991 and demolished in 1999 to allow Runway 14/32 to be lengthened. In 2006 the main runway was repaved and extended 750 feet (230 m), its first major upgrade since 1980 and the secondary runway was extended 1,000 feet (300 m).
In 2008 some local residents made a short-lived attempt to rename the airport to "Buffalo Tim Russert International Airport" after popular news commentator and a Buffalo native Tim Russert who had died that year.
In 1991 it was decided a new terminal would make more sense than continued renovations. Construction of the new building designed by the Greater Buffalo International Airport (GBIA) Design Group, a joint venture composed of Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, CannonDesign, and William Nicholas Bodouva began in 1995 in between the two existing buildings.
The new $56 million terminal (at newly named Buffalo-Niagara International Airport) opened on November 3, 1997 with 15 gates. The old terminals were demolished immediately to allow expansion. The new building was expanded in 2001, increasing the number of gates to 24. The entire terminal has a total floor area of 462,256 square feet (42,945.0 m2).
In late 2017 the terminal began an $80 million renovation and expansion with more than 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2) of new space as part of the airport's 2013 master plan. The expansion will create secure walkways on the east and west side of the terminal for arriving passengers and relocate the central exit walkway to eliminate bottlenecks with departing passengers on the second floor. This will also create expanded curbside space for arriving and departing passengers. The renovation will also replace the baggage claim area's three flat plate baggage carousels with four sloped plate carousels, doubling the current capacity. Preparations began December 2018, with groundbreaking and major construction which began in February 2019. The renovations are scheduled to be completed in 2021. As part of the master plan, this expansion allows for the future creation of a new pier south of the current east concourse.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is at elevation 727 feet (222 m) and has two runways.
|5/23||8,829 feet (2,691 m)||150 feet (46 m)||Cat. I (both directions)||The main and longest runway at the airport, with Approach Lighting Systems (ALS) at each end.|
|14/32||7,161 feet (2,183 m)||150 feet (46 m)||Cat. I (32 only)||Runway 14 approach does not have ILS, nor ALS.|
Buffalo Airport Fire Department is a career fire department. The BNIA CFR respond to all alarms of fire and EMS calls in the terminal complex and adjacent property. The BNIA CFR also respond off grounds occasionally for mutual aid requests. It was formerly Buffalo Fire Department Engine 7 (crash-fire-rescue unit) until 1981 and was transferred to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. A new $11 million fire station was completed in 2017. The facility is off of Amhert Villa Road, triple the size of the old station and includes a training facility and other amenities.
The BNIA ARFF has six pieces of apparatus:
Prior Aviation is the FBO for the airport. It provides private charter flights and other services, including fueling and ground handling, to many of the scheduled airlines that operate from the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. It also provides aircraft maintenance service from its FAA approved repair station to airlines, corporate and general aviation customers. It is on the airport's north side.
The airspace above Buffalo can be busy at times due to its location under the flight paths of Toronto Pearson International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport. Most of these flights are inbound or outbound from destinations in the United States, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. These aircraft are well above 10,000 feet (3,000 m) and do not affect the air traffic of Buffalo.
The April 1957 OAG shows 96 weekday departures: 55 American, 28 Capital, 10 Mohawk and 3 Allegheny. Nonstops didn't reach past Boston, New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago; Buffalo didn't get a nonstop beyond Chicago until Mohawk started Minneapolis in 1970. Continental tried Denver for a few months in 1987-88, American tried DFW a couple of times, and Northwest started Minneapolis in 1987 -- no others until Southwest started Phoenix and Las Vegas in October 2000.
When the federal government deregulated the airlines in 1978, Buffalo was served by four airlines: three "trunk carriers" (American Airlines, United Airlines, Eastern Air Lines) and one "local service carrier" (Allegheny Airlines). American and United used the East Terminal, and Allegheny and Eastern used the West Terminal.
During the "glory years" for mainline-sized jet service at U.S. medium-size airports in the 1970s and 1980s, Buffalo regularly hosted widebody passenger jets. American Airlines DC-10s flew to Chicago O'Hare International Airport and other points. Eastern Air Lines Lockheed L-1011s and Airbus A300s flew to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Eastern's flights often did 'tag-on' hops to Toronto Pearson International Airport due to legal restrictions on flights between the United States and Canada. Buffalo still hosts many mainline passenger jets, but scheduled flights are usually narrow-body (single-aisle) aircraft. Today Buffalo hosts wide-body passenger flights which are charters for the Buffalo Bills or their National Football League opponents.
Shortly after Deregulation, American and United began reducing service at medium-sized Northeastern markets such as Buffalo. Many other airlines entered the Buffalo market and the 1980s saw a riot of new airline service as the industry began to take its post-deregulation shape. Most of these carriers did not survive the decade.
The most prominent new carrier at Buffalo was People Express Airlines, a low-fare carrier founded in 1981 with a hub at Newark International Airport. Buffalo, along with Norfolk, Virginia and Columbus, Ohio was one of the original three cities served by People from Newark. The airline grew rapidly into a major carrier and at its peak ran over 10 flights per day from Buffalo to Newark. Too-rapid growth including a purchase of the original Frontier Airlines led to People's demise in 1987. They were bought and assimilated by Continental Airlines.
Other carriers at Buffalo included:
In 1986-1987 the US airline industry went through a series of buyouts and mergers, and by the end of 1989 most domestic air service in the US was provided by six "legacy carriers." At the end of the 1980s, airlines at Buffalo were mostly this six and their regional affiliates: American, United, Continental, USAir, Northwest and Delta Air Lines. During the 1990s, with People Express vanquished, these carriers kept fares high and enplanements stagnant at Buffalo.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Buffalo Niagara International Airport grew with the addition of low-cost carriers Southwest and JetBlue. Due to the "Southwest Effect", Buffalo Niagara International Airport exceeded the 5 million passenger mark in 2006. Previous estimates by the NFTA had projected 3.8 million passengers for 2006, and it would be 2020 before the 5 million passenger plateau would be reached. Buffalo is the largest airport by passenger traffic in Upstate New York and now averages 4.5-5.5 million passengers per year. Another addition to the low cost carriers was Frontier, which began service from Buffalo in 2017. 
The proximity of Buffalo Niagara International Airport to the 9.2 million residents of the Golden Horseshoe region (which includes the metropolitan areas of Greater Toronto and Hamilton) in Ontario makes it a very popular airport for Canadians traveling to U.S. destinations. Despite the existence of three international airports in the region that provide cross-border flights (Toronto Pearson International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport), one in three passengers utilizing Buffalo are from Canada and in 2012, 47 percent of all passengers were from Canada. This is due to air fares for US-bound Canadian flights being generally higher due to added customs and immigration surcharges, the value difference of Canadian and U.S. currency, and other taxes and fees. Several passenger shuttle services operate from the airport to cities in Southern Ontario, and to Toronto-Pearson and Hamilton airports.
|American Airlines|| Charlotte |
Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia
|American Eagle|| Chicago-O'Hare, Philadelphia, Washington-National |
Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul|
|Delta Connection||Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia|
|Frontier Airlines||Denver, Miami (resumes December 17, 2020),Orlando, Tampa|
Seasonal: Fort Myers, Raleigh/Durham
|JetBlue||Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Orlando|
| Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Tampa|
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers
|United Express||Chicago-O'Hare, Newark, Washington-Dulles|
|Vacation Express||Seasonal: Cancún|
Note: Vacation Express flights are operated by VivaAerobús.
|Domestic Destinations Map|
|International Destinations map|
|Ameriflight||Binghamton, Elmira, Plattsburgh|
|FedEx Express||Syracuse, Indianapolis, Memphis, Ottawa|
|UPS Airlines||Louisville, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Hartford|
|Cargo Destinations Map|
|Year||Total Passengers||% Change|
|1||New York-JFK, New York||221,570||Delta, JetBlue|
|2||Orlando, Florida||204,700||Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest|
|3||Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois||186,610||American, United|
|6||Boston, Massachusetts||125,460||Delta, JetBlue|
|7||Charlotte, North Carolina||110,850||American|
|10||Tampa, Florida||82,420||Frontier, Southwest|
|3||Delta Air Lines||11.25%||477,000|
* - Endeavor Air operates as Delta Connection.
The airport is served by the Kensington Expressway (NY Route 33), which ends at the airport. Route 33 intersects with the New York State Thruway, Interstate I-90, about 1 mi (1.6 km) from the airport and then continues directly into downtown Buffalo with a total drive time of approximately 10-15 minutes.
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority provides service on routes 24B (Genesee), 47 (Youngs Road), 68 (George Urban Express) and 204 (Airport-Downtown Express). NFTA Metro Paratransit offers services to the airport for people with mobility issues, but pre-booking is required.
Many national car hire firms all have rental facilities on airport property. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National all are on-site. Various limos, taxis and shuttle buses have access to and from the airport.