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Buffalo Niagara International Airport
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, 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.
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. The original airport included a small terminal building, one hangar, and four cinder runways. Each of the cinder runways measured 3,000 feet long by 100 feet wide. Passenger and airmail service began in December 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. In 1940–1941 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, a major airfield expansion effort took place. This was done to facilitate aircraft manufacturing, test and acceptance flight activity; and the needs of the commercial airlines. This effort provided the airport with the following four paved runways:
|Runway||Length (ft)||Width (ft)|
|13–31 (Present 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. At this time Runways 1–19 and 8–26 were closed, 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 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. To accommodate commercial jet service, Runway 5–23 was extended to 8,100 feet in length in 1965. 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.
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 an $80 million renovation and expansion as part of the airport's 2013 sustainable master plan. 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 is intended to eliminate bottlenecks with departing passengers on the second floor. 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. 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 sits at an elevation of 727 feet (222 m). There are two runways at the airport.
|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 only)||Runway 14 approach does not have ILS, nor ALS.|
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. A new $11 million fire station was completed in 2017. The facility is located 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:
- 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)
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.
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.
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 at the time. 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 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 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 a purchase of the original Frontier Airlines, led to People's demise in 1987. They were bought and assimilated by Continental Airlines.
Other carriers that served Buffalo include:
- TWA (Trans World Airlines), which served Buffalo around 1979–1981 during a short-lived experiment running a hub in Pittsburgh.
- Republic Airlines, a Minneapolis-based carrier which ran flights from Buffalo to its hub at Detroit starting in 1984 and which was bought by Northwest Airlines in 1987.
- Empire Airlines, a regional carrier based in Utica which built a hub at Syracuse Hancock International Airport after deregulation and ran regional jet and turboprop flights in the Northeast.
- Mall Airways, a small regional carrier based at Albany International Airport, operated flights from Buffalo to their Albany hub in the mid-1980s.
- Piedmont Airlines, a pre-deregulation local service carrier from North Carolina which built a hub at Baltimore–Washington International Airport after deregulation and ran flights to the Northeast, Southeast, and Florida, and was bought by USAir in 1987 and merged into them in 1989.
- Independence Air, a low-cost carrier serving primarily the East Coast, operated eight flights daily from Buffalo to their hub at Washington Dulles International Airport from July 2004 until it ceased operations in January 2006.
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.
Low fare service
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, who launched service from Buffalo in 2017. 
The proximity of Buffalo Niagara International Airport to the 9.2 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). In 2012, 47 percent of all passengers were from Canada. 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 from the airport to cities in Southern Ontario, and to Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Airlines and destinations
|American Airlines|| Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare (begins June 7, 2019), Miami, Philadelphia
|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||Denver, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers, Raleigh/Durham
|JetBlue||Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York–JFK, Orlando|
|Southwest Airlines|| Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Denver (resumes June 9, 2019), Las Vegas, Nashville (begins October 5, 2019), Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers
|United Airlines||Chicago–O'Hare, Newark|
|United Express||Chicago–O'Hare, Newark, Washington–Dulles|
|Vacation Express||Seasonal: Cancún, Montego Bay, Punta Cana|
|Domestic Destinations Map|
|Ameriflight||Binghamton, Elmira, Plattsburgh|
|FedEx Express||Syracuse, Indianapolis, Memphis, Ottawa|
|UPS Airlines||Louisville, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Hartford|
|Year||Total Passengers||% Change|
|1||New York–JFK, New York||260,760||Delta, JetBlue|
|2||Orlando, Florida||234,820||Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest|
|4||Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois||202,920||American, United|
|6||Boston, Massachusetts||144,960||Delta, JetBlue|
|7||Charlotte, North Carolina||137,880||American|
|9||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||110,560||JetBlue, Southwest|
* – Republic Airline operates as American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express.
** – 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.
Car hire and taxi
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- February 13, 2019 – United Airlines Flight 1442 to Newark Liberty International Airport struck a passenger jet bridge at Gate 9 while taxiing for takeoff. Strong winds and blowing snow were reported as the cause. There were no injuries among the 158 passengers on board.
Other airports that target Canadian travellers as alternatives to their local airport(s):
- Niagara Falls International Airport – another alternative to Toronto/Hamilton
- Plattsburgh International Airport – alternative to airport in Montreal (Dorval)
- Syracuse Hancock International – alternative to Kingston ON and Ottawa
- Ogdensburg International Airport – alternative to airport in Ottawa (Ottawa-Macdonald)
- Bellingham International Airport – alternative to Vancouver
- "Cheektowaga CDP, New York Archived June 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
- FAA Airport Master Record for BUF ( PDF), effective March 29, 2018.
- "Buffalo Niagara International Airport Interim Report No. 1 – 1999" (PDF). January 13, 1999.
- "It's official: Road near stadium becomes Tim Russert Highway : The Buffalo News".
- "2013 Sustainable Master Plan | Buffalo Niagara International Airport". Retrieved April 8, 2017.
- McCarthy, Robert J. (December 8, 2018). "Buffalo Niagara International Airport's $80 million upgrade ready to take off". The Buffalo News. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
- "Buffalo Niagara International Airport | AirNav". Retrieved May 10, 2016.
- "Terms of agreement - stuntoffer.com". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.
- Herr, Jim (August 23, 2017). "State-of-the-art station for Buffalo airport firefighters". Cheektowaga Chronicle. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
- "Prior Aviation Service". Archived from the original on September 23, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- "BNIA passenger count tops 5M". Buffalo Business First.
- "Frontier Airlines launching service from Buffalo". WKBW. July 18, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
- "Data". mah.gov.on.ca.
- "Hamilton Breaking News – Hamilton's Online Newspaper". TheSpec.com.
- "jetBlue first flight from BUF to LAX takes off".
- "Buffalo Niagara International Airport".
- "Southwest Airlines Adds New Nonstop Flights To Route Map". Southwest Airlines Newsroom. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "RITA – BTS – Transtats".
- "Buffalo International Airport Ground Transportation". Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- "Federal Investigators Arrive to Probe Crash".
- BETSY'S PLANE CRASH A CLOSE CALL, FEDS SAY, NY Daily News, March 6, 1998. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- Matthew L. Wald and Al Baker (February 14, 2009). "Crew Reported 'Significant Ice Buildup' Before Crash". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- "Skywest plane makes emergency landing in Buffalo after passenger loses consciousness". April 22, 2015.
- ABC News. "Plane Goes Off Runway at Buffalo Niagara International Airport; No Injuries Reported". ABC News.
- Eileen Buckley (February 13, 2019). "No one hurt when plane slides into a passenger jet bridge". WBFO. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- Official website
- "New York State DOT Airport Diagram" (PDF).
- (PDF), effective April 25, 2019
- FAA Terminal Procedures for BUF, effective April 25, 2019
- Resources for this airport:
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. NY-309-A, "Greater Buffalo International Airport, Maintenance Hangar, Buffalo, Erie County, NY", 15 photos, 2 photo caption pages
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