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.
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. Delaware North Co. currently holds the contact for the terminals concessions. 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.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport sits at an elevation of 727 feet (222 m). There are two runways at the airport.
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.
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)
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 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):TWA (Trans World Airlines), which served Buffalo briefly 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 within 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.
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.
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. Buffalo is the largest airport by passenger traffic in Upstate New York and now averages between 4.5–5.5 million passengers per year.
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 between the airport and cities throughout Southern Ontario, as well as to Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
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.
Airline market share
Note below Endeavor Air is included with Delta, as it only operates as Delta Connection.
Total Aeronautical Operating Revenue:
Annual Aircraft Operations:
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.
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.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 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 191. The crash was attributed to an aerodynamic stall caused by the crew's failure to monitor their airspeed.
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 three passengers 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.