Buffalo Niagara International Airport Article

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Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Deford airport small.jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner/Operator Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
Serves Buffalo metropolitan area, Golden Horseshoe
Location4200 Genesee Street
Town of Cheektowaga
Elevation  AMSL728 ft / 222 m
Coordinates 42°56′26″N 078°43′56″W / 42.94056°N 78.73222°W / 42.94056; -78.73222
Website www.buffaloairport.com
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is located in New York
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is located in the US
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
5/23 8,829 2,691 Asphalt
14/32 7,161 2,183 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
KBUF Airport Diagram

Buffalo Niagara International Airport ( IATA: BUF, ICAO: KBUF, FAA LID: BUF) is in Cheektowaga, [2] New York, United States, named after the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The airport serves Buffalo, New York 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 (405 ha) of land. [3]


West terminal in 1974

The Buffalo Municipal Airport (as it was then known) opened in 1926 on former farmland, making it one of the country's oldest public airports. Passenger and airmail service began in 1927, with service to Cleveland. A WPA-built Art Deco terminal building featuring a v-shaped terminal with a large cylindrical tower began construction in 1938, and was completed in 1939. A new apron was added a few months later. Roadway and parkway improvements were made in the 1940s and 50s. The terminal's first expansion, to 11 gates, which tripled the terminal's square footage and added a restaurant, was constructed in 1955 to keep up with increasing traffic and larger planes. 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. A second terminal (the "West Terminal") was built in 1971 while it was hoped that 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 to the building 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 following 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 make way for the expansion of the airport's second runway.

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. [4]

Current terminal

In 1991, it was decided it was no longer economically viable to keep renovating and expanding the dated terminals, and an all-new terminal was needed. 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 gates to 25. 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 late 2017 the terminal commenced a $65 million renovation and expansion as part of the airport's 2013 sustainable master plan. [5] The expansion will create secure walkways on the east and west side of the terminal for arriving passengers, relocating the current central exit walkway. This will also create expanded curbside space for arriving and departing passengers. The current baggage claim area's three flat plate baggage carousels will also be replaced with four sloped plate carousels, doubling the current capacity. The renovations are scheduled to be completed in 2019. [6] As part of the master plan, this expansion allows for the future creation of a new pier and terminal south of the current east concourse. [5]



Buffalo Niagara International Airport sits at an elevation of 727 feet (222 m). There are two runways at the airport. [7]

Number Length Width ILS Notes
5/23 8,829 feet (2,691 m) 150 feet (46 m) Cat. I (both directions) The main and longest runway at the airport, equipped at both ends with Approach Lighting Systems (ALS).
14/32 7,161 feet (2,183 m) 150 feet (46 m) Cat. I (32 [8] only) Runway 14 approach does not have ILS, nor ALS.

Emergency services

Buffalo Airport Fire Department is a career fire department for the airport. The BNIA CFR respond to all alarms of fire and EMS calls within the terminal complex and throughout the 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 over to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. [9]

The BNIA ARFF has six pieces of apparatus:

  • 2005 Oshkosh Stryker Crash Tender (Dry Chemical, Water and Foam)
  • 1992 Oshkosh T-3000 Crash Tender (Water and Foam)
  • 2000 Oshkosh T-3000 Crash Tender (Water and Foam)
  • Heavy Rescue Unit (EMS and Spills)
  • Chief's Car
  • Pumper/Tender (Water and Foam)

Other facilities

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 located on the north side of the airport. [10]


The airspace above Buffalo can be busy at times due to the arriving and departing flights to/from Toronto Pearson International Airport. Most of these flights are inbound or outbound from destinations in the south - including the Southern United States, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. However, the altitude for these aircraft is still well above 10,000 feet and therefore does not affect aircraft traffic using BUF.

Service history

Buffalo Niagara Control Tower

When the Federal Government deregulated the airline industry 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 (twin-aisle) passenger jets. American Airlines operated McDonnell Douglas DC-10s to Chicago O'Hare International Airport and other points. Eastern Air Lines operated Lockheed L-1011s and Airbus A300s 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 at that time. Buffalo still hosts many mainline passenger jet aircraft, but scheduled flights are now typically limited to narrowbody (single-aisle) aircraft. Today Buffalo hosts widebody passenger flights which are charters for the Buffalo Bills or their visiting National Football League opponents.

Shortly after Deregulation, American and United began reducing service at medium-sized Northeastern markets such as Buffalo, in search of higher profits elsewhere. 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 new 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 in New Jersey, next to New York City. 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. However, too-rapid growth including an ill-considered purchase of the original Frontier Airlines, as well as bad management, led to People's demise in 1987. They were bought and assimilated by Continental Airlines.

Other carriers that served Buffalo include (but are not limited to):

In 1986–1987, most of the US airline industry consolidated through a series of buyouts and mergers. By the end of 1989 most domestic air service in the US was provided six surviving "legacy carriers." At the end of the 1980s, airline service in Buffalo was provided mostly by these six airlines and their regional affiliates: American, United, Continental, USAir, Northwest and Delta Air Lines. During the 1990s, with People Express safely vanquished, these carriers kept fares high and enplanements stagnant at Buffalo. The section below discusses the emergence of low-fare service, and the airport's resulting service renaissance, beginning around 2000.

Low fare service

At the beginning of the 21st century, Buffalo Niagara International Airport grew significantly after the addition of several low-cost carriers. Southwest and JetBlue began operating significant passenger volume relative to traditional carriers such as American, Delta and United. Due to the " Southwest Effect", Buffalo Niagara International Airport exceeded the 5,000,000 passenger mark in 2006. Previous estimates by the NFTA had projected 3.8 million passengers for 2006 and that it would not be until 2020 before the 5 million passenger plateau would be reached. [11] Buffalo is the largest airport by passenger traffic in Upstate New York and now averages between 4.5–5.5 million passengers per year.

Canadian travelers

The proximity of Buffalo Niagara International Airport to the 9.2 million [12] residents of Ontario's Golden Horseshoe region makes it a very popular airport for Canadians traveling to U.S. destinations. In fact, about one of every three passengers utilizing the airport are from Canada (particularly the Greater Toronto Area). [13] In 2012, 47 percent of all passengers were from Canada. [14] Airfares from Canadian airports to American destinations are generally higher due to added customs and immigration surcharges for international flights, the value difference of Canadian and US currency, and other taxes and fees. There are many shuttles between the airport and cities throughout Southern Ontario, as well as to Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

Airlines and destinations

On average there are over 100 flights per day, with non-stop service to 30 airports across the United States, Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. [15]


American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth (begins December 19, 2018) [16]
Seasonal: Miami (begins December 19, 2018) [17]
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Philadelphia, Washington–National
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia
Frontier Airlines Austin, Denver, Orlando, Raleigh/Durham, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers, Jacksonville (FL) [18]
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York–JFK, Orlando
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Denver (resumes June 9, 2019), Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Newark
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Newark, Washington–Dulles
Vacation Express Seasonal: Cancún, Montego Bay (begins January 25, 2019), Punta Cana


Ameriflight Binghamton, Elmira, Plattsburgh
DHL Aviation Bedford, Cincinnati, St. Louis–Spirit
FedEx Express Cleveland, Indianapolis, Memphis, Ottawa, Syracuse
Seasonal: Hartford
FedEx Feeder Newark, Jamestown
UPS Airlines Louisville, Philadelphia, Syracuse
Seasonal: Hartford, Providence


Total passengers

Year Total Passengers % Change
2002 [1] 3,716,000 Steady
2003 [1] 4,013,000 Increase 7.99%
2004 [1] 4,348,000 Increase 8.35%
2005 [1] 4,804,000 Increase 10.49%
2006 [1] 4,983,000 Increase 3.73%
2007 [1] 5,405,000 Increase 8.47%
2008 [1] 5,461,000 Increase 1.04%
2009 [1] 5,278,000 Decrease 3.35%
2010 [1] 5,194,000 Decrease 1.59%
2011 [1] 5,110,000 Decrease 1.62%
2012 [1] 5,145,000 Increase 0.68%
2013 [1] 5,101,000 Decrease 0.86%
2014 [1] 4,720,000 Decrease 7.47%
2015 [1] 4,643,000 Decrease 1.63%
2016 [1] 4,606,000 Decrease 0.79%
2017 [1] 4,670,000 Increase 1.39%

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from BUF (Sep 2017 – Aug 2018) [1]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 New York–JFK, New York 263,460 Delta, JetBlue
2 Orlando, Florida 220,710 Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest
3 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 204,170 American, United
4 Baltimore, Maryland 203,900 Southwest
5 Atlanta, Georgia 203,080 Delta
6 Boston, Massachusetts 143,840 American, Delta, JetBlue
7 Charlotte, North Carolina 133,690 American
8 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 126,100 Southwest
9 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 107,860 JetBlue, Southwest
10 Detroit, Michigan 107,260 Delta

Airline market share

Note below Endeavor Air is included with Delta, as it only operates as Delta Connection.

Largest Airlines at BUF
(June 2017 – May 2018)
Rank Carrier Percentage Passengers
1 Southwest Airlines 31.02% 1,526,000
2 Delta Airlines 18.38% 904,000
3 JetBlue Airways 16.85% 829,000
4 American Airlines 6.42% 264,000
- Other 27.33% 1,345,000

Ground transportation


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.

Greyhound Bus Lines, Greyhound Canada, and Megabus also provide transportation to and from the airport, with services to Toronto and New York City. [19]

Car hire and taxi

Many national car hire firms all have rental facilities on airport property. Various limos, taxis and shuttle buses have access to and from the airport.

Accidents and incidents

  • September 11, 1942 – Curtiss P-40 Warhawk crashes into the Curtiss-Wright Plant 2 building on the corner of Genesee Street and Sugg Road (Holtz Road) in Cheektowaga, New York. The plane entered the roof of the building landing near the tool crib, trapping several employees. 14 deaths and 33 injuries were reported along with many acts of heroism among fellow employees. The plane was reported to have been at 15,000 feet when fire started to consume the cockpit. The pilot tried in vain to save the plane but was forced to parachute to safety, landing near Walden Avenue and Union Road. The plane plunged to earth, landing back near the airport. It's said that the impact was so great that the engine was planted into the cement floor of the factory. A marker can be found in the Long Term Parking lot of Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
  • January 21, 1954: American Airlines Flight 767, a Convair CV-240 crashed quickly after taking off from Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The left engine failed causing the pilot to attempt a return to the airport. A successful wheels up landing was made southeast of the airport 200 yards south of 2478 George Urban Blvd. in Depew, New York. No deaths and few injuries were reported.
  • On August 2, 1958 - A Blue Angels jet flown by Lt. John R. Dewenter landed, wheels up at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after experiencing engine troubles during a show in Clarence, NY. The Grumman F-11 Tiger landed on Runway 23 but exited airport property coming to rest in the intersection of Genesee Street and Dick Road, nearly hitting a gas station. Lt. Dewenter was uninjured and the plane was a total loss.
  • On June 12, 1972, American Airlines Flight 96, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 en route from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, suffered an explosive decompression from an improperly secured rear cargo door, and was forced to return to Detroit.
  • On December 16, 1972, a private Cessna 421 crashed into the homes at 116 and 121 Diane Drive in Cheektowaga, New York near the airport. The crash killed three on board and three on the ground, at least 4 people on the ground were injured. [20]
  • February 18, 1998 - A twin engine Beechcraft chartered by Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey Ross, a candidate for governor, carrying McCaughey Ross and three staff, crashed on take-off, with minor injuries. An FAA investigation determined that soggy conditions at the airport likely prevented the aircraft from catching fire. [21]
  • February 12, 2009 – Colgan Air Flight 3407, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 operating under contract with Continental Connection crashed into a home on Long Street in Clarence Center, New York. The flight from Newark Liberty International Airport was only approximately 6 mi (9.7 km) away from the airport when it crashed. All 49 passengers and crew members on board the aircraft perished in the incident, along with one individual on the ground. Two others who were in the home at the time of the accident escaped alive. Minutes before the accident, the crew had reported "significant ice buildup" on the wings and the windshield and an NTSB official said that the aircraft had experienced "severe pitch-and-roll excursions" 40 seconds prior to the crash. [22] This was the first fatal accident of an airliner on US soil in almost 3 years after the crash of Comair Flight 5191. The crash was attributed to an aerodynamic stall caused by the crew's failure to monitor their airspeed.
  • August 14, 2014 - N706GS a 2013 Piper PA-28 crashed upon take off from runway 23. The short flight reached an altitude of 200-300 feet before landing on BNIA property and ending up in a premium parking lot southwest of The Terminal. The occupants: Bing Shen, 39, his six-year-old son and the pilot, a Certified Flight Instructor, Anastasiia Goldowsky, were treated and released from Erie County Medical Center. The flight was a plane for hire scheduled for an afternoon of sightseeing.
  • April 22, 2015 - SkyWest Airlines Flight 5622, en route from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago to Bradley International Airport in Hartford made an emergency landing after one passenger reportedly lost consciousness. [23]
  • June 8, 2015 - Mesa Airlines Flight 3796, a Canadair Regional Jet CRJ-700, operated by United Express, skidded off of Runway 32 into a grass area, due to high winds. The plane departed from Dulles International Airport. There were no injuries. [24]

See also

Other airports that target Canadian travellers as alternatives to their local airport(s):


 This article incorporates  public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "RITA - BTS - Transtats".
  2. ^ " Cheektowaga CDP, New York Archived June 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
  3. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for BUF ( Form 5010 PDF), effective March 29, 2018.
  4. ^ "It's official: Road near stadium becomes Tim Russert Highway : The Buffalo News".
  5. ^ a b "2013 Sustainable Master Plan | Buffalo Niagara International Airport". Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  6. ^ "Buffalo airport getting $65 million upgrade | Buffalo News". Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  7. ^ "Buffalo Niagara International Airport | AirNav". Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  8. ^ FAA
  9. ^ "Terms of agreement - stuntoffer.com". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.
  10. ^ "Prior Aviation Service". Archived from the original on September 23, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  11. ^ "BNIA passenger count tops 5M". Buffalo Business First.
  12. ^ [> http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=10852 "Data"] Check |url= value ( help). mah.gov.on.ca.
  13. ^ "Hamilton Breaking News - Hamilton's Online Newspaper". TheSpec.com.
  14. ^ "jetBlue first flight from BUF to LAX takes off".
  15. ^ "Buffalo Niagara International Airport".
  16. ^ https://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2018/05/31/american-airlines-dfw-routes-del-rio-texas.html?ana=RSS&s=article_search
  17. ^ Lynch, Kaley (2018-07-14). "American Airlines to begin offering direct flights from Buffalo to Miami". WIVB. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  18. ^ Becker, Maki (8 May 2018). "Frontier to fly between Buffalo and Jacksonville". The Buffalo News.
  19. ^ "Buffalo International Airport Ground Transportation". Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  20. ^ "Federal Investigators Arrive to Probe Crash".
  21. ^ BETSY'S PLANE CRASH A CLOSE CALL, FEDS SAY, NY Daily News, March 6, 1998. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  22. ^ Matthew L. Wald and Al Baker (February 14, 2009). "Crew Reported 'Significant Ice Buildup' Before Crash". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  23. ^ "Skywest plane makes emergency landing in Buffalo after passenger loses consciousness". April 22, 2015.
  24. ^ ABC News. "Plane Goes Off Runway at Buffalo Niagara International Airport; No Injuries Reported". ABC News.

External links