Buffalo Niagara International Airport

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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  AMSL 728 ft / 222 m
Coordinates 42°56′26″N078°43′56″W / 42.94056°N 78.73222°W / 42.94056; -78.73222
Website www.buffaloairport.com
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Buffalo Niagara International Airport
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Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Direction LengthSurface
Statistics (2018)
KBUF Airport Diagram KBUF-FAAAirportDiagram.PDF
KBUF Airport Diagram

Buffalo Niagara International Airport( IATA : BUF, ICAO : KBUF, FAA LID : BUF) is in Cheektowaga, [1] 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. [2]

An IATA airport code, also known as an IATA location identifier, IATA station code or simply a location identifier, is a three-letter code designating many airports around the world, defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The characters prominently displayed on baggage tags attached at airport check-in desks are an example of a way these codes are used.

ICAO airport code four-letter code designating many airports around the world

The ICAOairport code or location indicator is a four-letter code designating aerodromes around the world. These codes, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization and published in ICAO Document 7910: Location Indicators, are used by air traffic control and airline operations such as flight planning.

Federal Aviation Administration United States Government agency dedicated to civil aviation matters

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a governmental body of the United States with powers to regulate all aspects of civil aviation in that nation as well as over its surrounding international waters. Its powers include the construction and operation of airports, air traffic management, the certification of personnel and aircraft, and the protection of U.S. assets during the launch or re-entry of commercial space vehicles. Powers over neighboring international waters were delegated to the FAA by authority of the International Civil Aviation Organization.



West terminal in 1974 NFTA Annual Report 1974-1975 06.jpg
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. 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 [3] :

Cleveland City in Ohio

Cleveland is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County. The city proper has a population of 385,525, making it the 51st-largest city in the United States, and the second-largest city in Ohio. Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 32nd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,055,612 people in 2016. The city anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the United States.

Works Progress Administration largest and most ambitious United States federal government New Deal agency

The Works Progress Administration was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of people to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was established on May 6, 1935, by Executive Order 7034. In a much smaller project, Federal Project Number One, the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. The four projects dedicated to these were: the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP), the Historical Records Survey (HRS), the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), the Federal Music Project (FMP), and the Federal Art Project (FAP). In the Historical Records Survey, for instance, many former slaves in the South were interviewed; these documents are of great importance for American history. Theater and music groups toured throughout America, and gave more than 225,000 performances. Archaeological investigations under the WPA were influential in the rediscovery of pre-Columbian Native American cultures, and the development of professional archaeology in the US.

Art Deco Influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s

Art Deco, sometimes referred to as Deco, is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War I. Art Deco influenced the design of buildings, furniture, jewelry, fashion, cars, movie theatres, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. It took its name, short for Arts Décoratifs, from the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes held in Paris in 1925. It combined modern styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

RunwayLength (ft)Width (ft)
13–31 (Present 14–32)5,730150

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.

American Airlines, Inc. (AA) is a major American airline headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. It is the world's largest airline when measured by fleet size, revenue, scheduled passengers carried, scheduled passenger-kilometers flown, and number of destinations served. American, together with its regional partners, operates an extensive international and domestic network with an average of nearly 6,700 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. American Airlines is a founding member of Oneworld alliance, the third largest airline alliance in the world. Regional service is operated by independent and subsidiary carriers under the brand name American Eagle.

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.

United Airlines, Inc., commonly referred to as just United, is a major American airline headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. United operates a large domestic and international route network, with an extensive presence in the Asia-Pacific region. United is a founding member of the Star Alliance, the world's largest airline alliance with a total of 28 member airlines. Regional service is operated by independent carriers under the brand name United Express. United was established by the amalgamation of several airlines in the late 1920s, the oldest of these being Varney Air Lines, which was founded in 1926.

Eastern Air Lines, also colloquially known as Eastern, was a major American airline from 1926 to 1991. Before its dissolution it was headquartered at Miami International Airport in an unincorporated area of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

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.

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation is an American-based, global diversified product manufacturer and service provider for the commercial, industrial, defense, and energy markets. Created in 1929 from the consolidation of Curtiss, Wright, and various supplier companies, by the end of World War II it was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States, supplying whole aircraft in large numbers to the U.S. Armed Forces. It has since evolved away from final assembly of finished aircraft, becoming a component manufacturer specializing in actuators, aircraft controls, valves, and surface treatment services. It also is a supplier to commercial nuclear power, nuclear navy systems, industrial vehicles and to the oil and gas industries.

Westinghouse Electric Corporation American manufacturing company, founded 1886

The Westinghouse Electric Corporation was an American manufacturing company. It was founded on January 8, 1886, as Westinghouse Electric Company and later renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation by its founder George Westinghouse (1846–1914). George Westinghouse had previously founded the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. The corporation purchased the CBS broadcasting company in 1995 and became the original CBS Corporation in 1997.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

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]

Tim Russert American journalist

Timothy John Russert was an American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC's Meet the Press. He was a senior vice president at NBC News, Washington bureau chief and also hosted an eponymous CNBC/MSNBC weekend interview program. He was a frequent correspondent and guest on NBC's The Today Show and Hardball. Russert covered several presidential elections, and he presented the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey on the NBC Nightly News during the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Time magazine included Russert in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008. Russert was posthumously revealed as a 30-year source for syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

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 an $80 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 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. [6] 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. [5]



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

NumberLengthWidth ILS Notes
5/238,829 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).
14/327,161 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] 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. [10]

The BNIA ARFF has six pieces of apparatus:

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. [11]


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 Tower at Buffalo airport.JPG
Buffalo Niagara Control Tower

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:

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. [12] 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. [13]

Canadian travelers

The proximity of Buffalo Niagara International Airport to the 9.2 million [14] 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). [15] In 2012, 47 percent of all passengers were from Canada. [16] 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

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. [17]


American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare (begins Jun 7, 2019), Miami, Philadelphia (resumes May 4, 2019)
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 Airways 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) [18] , 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


Ameriflight Binghamton, Elmira, Plattsburgh
FedEx Express Syracuse, Indianapolis, Memphis, Ottawa
FedEx Feeder Jamestown
UPS Airlines Louisville, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Hartford


Total passengers

YearTotal Passengers% Change
2002 [19] 3,716,000Steady2.svg
2003 [19] 4,013,000Increase2.svg 7.99%
2004 [19] 4,348,000Increase2.svg 8.35%
2005 [19] 4,804,000Increase2.svg 10.49%
2006 [19] 4,983,000Increase2.svg 3.73%
2007 [19] 5,405,000Increase2.svg 8.47%
2008 [19] 5,461,000Increase2.svg 1.04%
2009 [19] 5,278,000Decrease2.svg 3.35%
2010 [19] 5,194,000Decrease2.svg 1.59%
2011 [19] 5,110,000Decrease2.svg 1.62%
2012 [19] 5,145,000Increase2.svg 0.68%
2013 [19] 5,101,000Decrease2.svg 0.86%
2014 [19] 4,720,000Decrease2.svg 7.47%
2015 [19] 4,643,000Decrease2.svg 1.63%
2016 [19] 4,606,000Decrease2.svg 0.79%
2017 [19] 4,670,000Increase2.svg 1.39%
2018 [19] 5,014,000Increase2.svg 7.37%

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from BUF (Feb 2018 – Jan 2019) [19]
1 New York–JFK, New York 260,760Delta, JetBlue
2 Orlando, Florida 234,820Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest
3 Atlanta, Georgia 205,350Delta
4 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 202,920American, United
5 Baltimore, Maryland 198,870Southwest
6 Boston, Massachusetts 144,960Delta, JetBlue
7 Charlotte, North Carolina 137,880American
8 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 124,640Southwest
9 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 110,560JetBlue, Southwest
10 Detroit, Michigan 107,880Delta

Airline market share

Largest Airlines at BUF
(Feb 2018 - Jan 2019)
1 Southwest Airlines 30.33%1,517,000
2 JetBlue Airways 16.42%822,000
3 Delta Airlines 11.48%574,000
4 Republic Airline*7.69%384,000
4 Endeavor Air**6.78%339,000

* – Republic Airline operates as American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express.

** – Endeavor Air operates as Delta Connection.

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. [20]

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

See also

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

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

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