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
    BUF is located in the US
    Location of airport in New York / United States
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 (2014)
Passengers 4,726,000
KBUF Airport Diagram

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUFICAO: KBUFFAA 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 Southern 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 110 mi (180 km) southeast of Toronto.


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 enlarged also 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.[3]

Current terminal[edit]

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 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).

Currently the airport has 26 gates spanning the main terminal in the east and west wings.[4] Delaware North Co. currently holds the contact for the terminals concessions.[5] Restaurants in the terminal include the Anchor Bar, Labatt Blue Zone, Buf Bar, The Coffee Beanery, Lake Erie Grill, Which Wich?, Matties Texas Red Hots, Freshens Energy Zone, Checkers, Queen City Kitchen, and Villa Italian Kitchen. All are located in the east wing or food court, except for the Labatt Blue Zone which is located next to gate 4 in the west wing. There are 3 shops in the terminal: JetSet Market has 2 locations, one near security and another near the far end of the terminal near gate 20, the third shop is Fifth & Main, a luxury boutique fashion store. In addition, there is a visitor's information station near gate 7 where arriving passengers can stop for Buffalo-related souvenirs and tourist information before they get their bags.[6]



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[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.[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[edit]

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[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, 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.

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 had grown significantly after the addition of several low cost carriers. Southwest and JetBlue began operating significant passenger volume relative to traditional carriers like 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[edit]

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[edit]

On average there are over 100 flights per day, with non-stop service to 23 cities across the United States, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.[15]

Buffalo Niagara International Airport is located in North America
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Buffalo Niagara International Airport
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Destinations served from Buffalo (red): year round service (blue), seasonal (green), and charter (purple).[15]


Airlines Destinations
American Airlines Charlotte
American Eagle Boston, Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Philadelphia, Washington–National
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK
Delta Connection Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York–JFK, Orlando
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa
Seasonal: Denver, Fort Myers
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Newark, Washington–Dulles
Vacation Express
operated by VivaAerobús
Seasonal: Cancún
Vacation Express
operated by Dominican Wings
Seasonal: Punta Cana


Airlines Destinations
Ameriflight Binghamton, Elmira, Plattsburgh
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis, Ottawa
FedEx Feeder
operated by Mountain Air Cargo
UPS Airlines Louisville, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Seasonal: Providence


Total passengers[edit]

Year Total Passengers  % Change
2002[16] 3,716,000 Steady
2003[16] 4,013,000 Increase 7.99%
2004[16] 4,348,000 Increase 8.35%
2005[16] 4,804,000 Increase 10.49%
2006[16] 4,983,000 Increase 3.73%
2007[16] 5,405,000 Increase 8.47%
2008[16] 5,461,000 Increase 1.04%
2009[16] 5,278,000 Decrease 3.35%
2010[16] 5,194,000 Decrease 1.59%
2011[16] 5,110,000 Decrease 1.62%
2012[16] 5,145,000 Increase 0.68%
2013[16] 5,101,000 Decrease 0.86%
2014[16] 4,720,000 Decrease 7.47%
2015[16] 4,643,000 Decrease 1.63%
2016[16] 4,596,000 Decrease 1.01%

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from BUF (Jan 2016 – Dec 2016)[16]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 New York–JFK, New York 289,640 Delta, JetBlue
2 Atlanta, Georgia 203,750 Delta
3 Baltimore, Maryland 203,220 Southwest
4 Orlando, Florida 195,530 JetBlue, Southwest
5 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 189,820 American, United
6 Charlotte, North Carolina 139,690 American
7 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 127,390 Southwest
8 Boston, Massachusetts 127,040 American, JetBlue
9 Detroit, Michigan 113,260 Delta
10 Las Vegas, Nevada 89,930 Southwest

Airline market share[edit]

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

Largest Airlines at BUF
(Jan 2016 – Dec 2016)
Rank Carrier Percentage Passengers
1 Southwest Airlines 34.07% 1,5766,000
2 Delta Airlines 19.71% 906,000
3 JetBlue Airlines 16.82% 773,000
4 American Airlines 5.88% 270,000
- Other 23.52% 1,081,000

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 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.[17]

Car hire and taxi[edit]

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[edit]

The Blue Angels flew the F11F from 1957 to 1969.

See also[edit]

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. ^ Buffalo Niagara International (BUF) at transtats.bts.gov, Retrieved April 24, 2015
  2. ^ "Cheektowaga CDP, New York." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
  3. ^ It's official: Road near stadium becomes Tim Russert Highway : The Buffalo News
  4. ^ "Terminal Map | Buffalo Niagara International Airport". Retrieved May 10, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Buffalo Niagara International Airport | Delaware North". Retrieved May 10, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Airport Visitor Center | Buffalo Niagara International Airport". Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Buffalo Niagara International Airport | AirNav". Retrieved May 10, 2016. 
  8. ^ FAA
  9. ^ "Terms of agreement - stuntoffer.com". 
  10. ^ "Prior Aviation Service". Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  11. ^ "BNIA passenger count tops 5M". Buffalo Business First. 
  12. ^ http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=10852
  13. ^ One in three passengers going through Buffalo's airport calls Canada home
  14. ^ http://www.wgrz.com/money/business/jetblue-first-flight-from-buffalo-to-la-takes-off/246011406
  15. ^ a b "Buffalo Niagara International Airport". 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "RITA - BTS - Transtats". 
  17. ^ "Buffalo International Airport Ground Transportation". Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Federal Investigators Arrive to Probe Crash". 
  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. ^ "Skywest plane makes emergency landing in Buffalo after passenger loses consciousness". April 22, 2015. 
  21. ^ ABC News. "Plane Goes Off Runway at Buffalo Niagara International Airport; No Injuries Reported". ABC News. 

External links[edit]