Buffalo Niagara International Airport

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For an airport with a similar name, see Niagara Falls International Airport.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Deford airport small.jpg


BUF is located in New York
Location of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
Serves Erie County
Location 4200 Genesee Street
Town of Cheektowaga
Elevation AMSL 728 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
Direction Length Surface
ft m
5/23 8,829 2,691 Asphalt
14/32 7,161 2,183 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 5,118,000
KBUF Airport Diagram

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUFICAO: KBUFFAA LID: BUF) is in Cheektowaga,[2]New York, named after the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The airport serves Buffalo, New York and Southern Ontario, Canada. It is the busiest airport in Upstate New York. It is located about 11 miles east of Downtown Buffalo.


West terminal in 1974

The Buffalo Municipal Airport (as it was then known) opened in 1926 on former farmland, making it one of the oldest public airports in the country. The first 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 enlarged also, and the originally blue building was around that time repainted gray.

In 1991 it was decided that 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, Cannon Design, and William Nicholas Bodouva began in 1995 in between the two existing buildings.

The new 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 2004, 2010 and in 2013,[3] Buffalo/Niagara Int'l Airport hosted Air Force One. AFO was the first 747 to land in Buffalo. Also, in 2008 the San Diego Chargers football team brought in a Northwest 747, which then went on to London; the team's next game was against the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium as part of the NFL International Series. In May 2009 an Airbus A300-600ST Beluga No. 3 stopped in Buffalo for an overnight stop with space shuttle parts.

In 2008 some local residents made a short-lived attempt to rename the airport to "Buffalo Tim Russert International Airport" after a popular news commentator and a Buffalo native Tim Russert who had died that year.[4]

Southwest Airlines, which recently merged and absorbed AirTran Airways into its system, remains the busiest airline at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, handling 32 percent of the outbound flights. Delta Airlines is second, with 21 percent of outbound flights. JetBlue ranks third with 17 percent, followed by United Airlines, recently merged with Continental, at 14 percent. US Airways, the once dominant carrier at BNIA is ranked fifth with 13 percent of all outbound flights. American Airlines trails behind in sixth with 3 percent.

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.


Shops and restaurants[edit]

Currently, there are 10 restaurants in the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport plus vending machines. The Anchor Bar, Labatt Blue Zone, The Coffee Beanery, Lake Erie Grille, Landmark Bar and Carvery, Which Wich?, and Matties Texas Red Hots are spread throughout the terminal. In the food court near security are Freshens Energy Zone, Checkers, and Villa Italian Kitchen.

The only shop is Everything ASAP, though they have 2 locations, one near security and one near the far end of the terminal near gate 20.[5]

In addition, there is visitor's information station near the exit from the terminal where arriving passengers can stop for Buffalo-related souvenirs and tourist information before getting their bags.[6]

Delaware North Co. and the NFTA recently signed a pact that extends through 2027 for the concessions in the main terminal. The contract guarantees the NFTA at least $57 million in revenue payments from Delaware North during the next 20 years. The payment is based on the sales generated from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages. This pact also requires that certain shops will be open in the morning for passengers on early flights. Delaware North is also investing some $7.6 million to update the current configuration of concessions. Among those being removed are Burger King and All-Stars Cafe that were located on the edge of the west wing. In their place, Delaware North is creating the "Blue Zone" in the airport's west, or by the US Airways gates. The Blue Zone will feature a full-service bar, prepackaged meals like salads and wraps and hot items such as fresh-carved sandwiches. It will be a similar operation to the Landmark Cafe in the airport's east wing. The Blue Zone is opened in the summer of 2009. The largest change however was the creation of a food court just past the security gates.

Near the court is a 1,800-square-foot (170 m2) Anchor Bar franchised operation with seating for 42 people at the bar and 34 at sit down tables. "Getting the Anchor Bar was a real coup for us", said Nick Beillo, Delaware North Travel Hospitality Services chief operating officer. The food court will be home to many locally known restaurants, as well as many fast food chains. William Vanecek, NFTA director of aviation, said the new food court will add about 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) of additional retail and concession space to the airport. The terminal currently has 21,718 square feet (2,017.7 m2) of retail and concession space.

This is all part of the recent $45 million construction project which includes the addition of more baggage conveyors and three new security gates. [7]

Airline lounges[edit]

American Airlines operates an Admirals Club near Gate 6.

Ancillary services[edit]

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.[8]

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)

Service history[edit]

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, and 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 Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson 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. Continental Connection Flight 3407 which crashed six miles short of Runway 23 on February 12, 2009, was operating the old People Express route from Newark.

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[edit]

At the beginning of the 21st century, Buffalo Niagara International Airport has grown significantly after the addition of several low cost carriers. Southwest and JetBlue airways now operate significant passenger volume relative to traditional carriers like American, United, and Delta. Due to this "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 be until 2020 before the 5 million plateau would be reached.[9] Buffalo is the largest airport by passenger traffic in upstate New York and now averages between 5–6 million annual passengers per year.

Canadian travelers[edit]

The proximity of Buffalo Niagara International Airport to the 8.4 million 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).[10] 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[edit]

Buffalo Niagara International Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in New York State. On average there are 100 flights per day, and BNIA has nonstop flights to and from 21 cities across the continental US.[11]

Airlines Destinations
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, New York-JFK (Begins April 12, 2015)
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York-JFK, Orlando
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare
United Express Chicago-O'Hare, Newark, Washington-Dulles
US Airways Charlotte
US Airways Express Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington-National

Air charters[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal: Cancún ,[12] Punta Cana[12]
Wiggins Airways Jamestown[13]

Top destinations[edit]

Top ten busiest domestic routes out of BUF
(July 2013 – June 2014)[14]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 New York-JFK, NY 280,000 Delta, JetBlue
2 Atlanta, GA 251,000 Delta
3 Chicago-O'Hare, IL 209,000 American, United
4 Orlando, FL 205,000 JetBlue, Southwest
5 Baltimore, MD 202,000 Southwest
6 Charlotte, NC 154,000 US Airways
7 Boston, MA 136,000 JetBlue, US Airways
8 Chicago-Midway, IL 135,000 Southwest
9 Detroit, MI 108,000 Delta
10 New York-LaGuardia 98,000 Delta


  • Ameriflight International

Plattsburgh, Binghamton, Elmira

Memphis, Newark, Ottawa

  • Southwest Cargo
  • UPS Airlines operates Boeing 757-200F and Boeing 767-300F

Louisville, Philadelphia, Syracuse

  • Worldwide Flight Services



Prior Aviation 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.[16]

Total Aeronautical Operating Revenue:

2009 $26.2 Million
2008 $22.3 Million
2007 $21.6 Million
2006 $21.4 Million
2005 $17.9 Million

Annual Aircraft Operations: 2009-132.6 Thousand 2008-138.5 Thousand 2007-137.6 Thousand 2006-132.8 Thousand 2005-136.9 Thousand


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.

Ground transportation[edit]


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 mile 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), 27 (Erie County Home), 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 and buses from Canada also provide transportation to and from the airport.[17]

Car hire and taxi[edit]

Many national car hire firms all have rental facilities on airport property, while Thrifty and Dollar provide shuttle service to their facility across the street.

Various limos, taxis, and shuttle buses have access to and from the airport.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On September 11, 1942, a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk crashed 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 is 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.
  • On January 21, 1954, American Airlines Flight 767, operated with a Convair 240, crashed during takeoff, 200 yards south of 2478 George Urban Boulevard, Depew, New York. Several injuries were reported but no deaths as the plane failed to gain altitude after the left engine failed. No fire was reported but the presence of fuel made the muddy, shallow swamp a fire hazard. The plane remained mostly intact, coming to rest against a small clump of large trees. The flight was en route to Detroit, Michigan after starting the day in Albany, New York.
The Blue Angels flew the F11F from 1957 to 1969.
  • 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 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.[18]
  • 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 1, 1974, Northwest Airlines Flight 6231, a Boeing 727 chartered to pick up the Baltimore Colts in Buffalo crashed near Thiells, New York. The flight departed John F. Kennedy International Airport with only the cockpit crew on board. The pitot tube heat was not turned on and the pitot tube iced over during climb out making the airspeed readings unreliable. The plane stalled passing 23,000' and the crew was unable to regain control. All 3 crewmembers on board were killed.
  • 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 miles 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.[19] This was the first fatal accident of an airliner on US soil in almost 3 years after the crash of Comair Flight 191. The crash was attributed to an aerodynamic stall caused by the crew's failure to monitor their airspeed.
  • May 18, 2012 – Piedmont Airlines pilot Brett Dieter was arrested at Buffalo Niagara International Airport after a loaded Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver was found in his baggage prior to his scheduled flight between Buffalo and LaGuardia Airport.[20]
  • 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.

See also[edit]

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


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airports.asp?pn=1&Airport=BUF&Airport_Name=Buffalo,%20NY:%20Buffalo%20Niagara%20International&carrier=FACTS[Bureau of Transportation Statistics], Retrieved December 29, 2013
  2. ^ "Cheektowaga CDP, New York." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
  3. ^ http://www.wkbw.com/news/local/President-Obama-Lands-For-Visit-to-Queen-City-220693741.html
  4. ^ It's official: Road near stadium becomes Tim Russert Highway : The Buffalo News
  5. ^ "Buffalo International Airport Terminal Map". Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Airport Visitor Center | Buffalo Niagara International Airport". Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ Fink, James (May 27, 2008). "NFTA, Del. North in long-term airport pact". 
  8. ^ http://www.bnia-arff.com
  9. ^ BNIA passenger count tops 5M
  10. ^ One in three passengers going through Buffalo's airport calls Canada home
  11. ^ http://www.buffaloairport.com/
  12. ^ a b "Sunwing Airlines Announces New Non-Stop Flights From Buffalo to Cancun and Punta Cana This Winter". MarketWired. August 12, 2014. 
  13. ^ Sapong, Emma (February 19, 2014). "Jamestown airport to lose service from main carrier in May". The Buffalo News. 
  14. ^ http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airports.asp?pn=1&Airport=BUF&Airport_Name=Buffalo,%20NY:%20Buffalo%20Niagara%20International&carrier=FACTS
  15. ^ http://www.buffaloairport.com/Carriers.asp
  16. ^ "Prior Aviation Service". Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Buffalo International Airport Ground Transportation". Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ Federal Investigators Arrive to Probe Crash WBFO News
  19. ^ Matthew L. Wald and Al Baker (February 14, 2009). "Crew Reported 'Significant Ice Buildup' Before Crash". New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  20. ^ Airline pilot allegedly traveled with gun http://www.buffalonews.com/city/police-courts/courts/article862751.ece

External links[edit]