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Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Deford airport small.jpg
IATA: BUFICAO: KBUFFAA: BUF
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
Serves Erie County
Location 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
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
5/23 8,827 2,690 Asphalt
14/32 7,161 2,183 Asphalt
Statistics (2008)
Aircraft operations (2006) 137,518
Passengers 5,526,301 [1]
Based aircraft 37
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[2]
Destinations served from KBUF.
FAA Diagram for KBUF

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUFICAO: KBUFFAA LID: BUF) is an airport located in Cheektowaga CDP, Town of Cheektowaga,[3] in Erie County, New York, USA. It is named after the Buffalo – Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The airport serves Buffalo, New York as well as Southern Ontario, Canada (private land shuttle services connect Buffalo with Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario and John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Ontario[4]). It is the busiest airport in Upstate New York, and the third busiest in New York State by number of boardings.

Contents

History

The Buffalo Municipal Airport (as it was then called) was built in 1926, making it one of the oldest public airports in the country. However, the airport, which officially opened on May 11, 1939, was quickly outgrown, due to larger planes coming on the scene. A 1955 expansion helped remedy this problem. In 1959, after being acquired by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), the name was changed to the Greater Buffalo International Airport. Another renovation in 1961 extensively remodeled the main terminal building and built a new control tower, as well as adding another concourse for American Airlines. Despite all this, the terminal again became outgrown. To address this problem, a second terminal (called the "West Terminal") was constructed in 1971, which was built to last only ten years. The West Terminal had nine gates.

The original terminal, now called the "East Terminal", was heavily expanded between 1975 and 1977. However, no matter how many renovations or expansions the buildings went through, the buildings hadn't aged well. The West terminal, designed as a temporary structure, was nearly 20 years old. In 1982, two gates were added to the north/ east end of the West Terminal, which gates were 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.

Plans began for a new airport in 1991 after it was found that it was no longer economical to keep renovating and expanding the aging terminals. Construction of the new building designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox began in 1995 in between the two existing buildings. While the new building was being constructed, the existing terminals remained open.

The brand new airport (now renamed The Buffalo-Niagara International Airport) opened on November 3, 1997. It had 14 gates. The old terminals were demolished almost immediately in order to allow any necessary expansion. The new building received an expansion in 1999, increasing the number of gates to 26. In 2006, the main runway was repaved and extended 750 feet (230 m), its first major upgrade since 1980. The secondary runway was extended 1,000 feet (300 m) as well.

In 2004, 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 #3 stopped in Buffalo for an overnight stop with space shuttle parts.

In 2008 some of the 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.[5]

Southwest Airlines recently surpassed US Airways to become the largest carrier at BUF in terms of number of passengers. US Airways was bumped to second and JetBlue Airways ranked third.

Shops and Restaurants

Currently, there are 9 shops and restaurants in the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport plus vending machines and Wings To Go. The Anchor Bar, Everything ASAP, Monarch Newsstand & Gift Shop, Blue Zone, The Coffee Beanery, Jake's Bistro & News, Lake Erie Grille, Landmark Bar and Carvery and Matties Texas Red Hots are among these shops and restaurants.

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 dollars 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 US Airways, wing. 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 expected to open in the summer of 2009. The largest change however will be the creation of a food court just past the security gates.

Near the court will be 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 such restaurants as Freshens yogurt, Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen and Checkers will be making their local debut in the airport. William Vaneck, 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. Also, all the way down the west wing, Jake's outlet will be replaced by an Anderson's, featuring its famed beef on weck and frozen custard.

This is all part of the current 45 million dollar construction project which includes the addition more baggage conveyors and three new security gates. [6]

Service History

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-10's to Chicago O'Hare International Airport and other points. Eastern Air Lines operated Lockheed L-1011s and Airbus A300's 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, VA and Columbus, OH 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 (1950-1986), 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 in the 1980s 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

Upstate New York (specifically the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany airports) used to be ranked high among the most expensive airports to fly out of in the country. "For way too long, Upstate air travelers have been at the mercy of the major carriers", said Senator Charles Schumer.[7] Schumer is credited[citation needed] for jump starting the upstate New York economy with low fare airlines. He is also credited[citation needed] with bringing JetBlue Airways to New York and helping JetBlue obtain slots at JFK. JetBlue began service between Buffalo and JFK six days after their inaugural flight (JFK-FLL). Thanks to Schumer's efforts[citation needed], JetBlue Airways started service to Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester, Southwest Airlines has come to Buffalo and Albany and Airtran Airways started service to Buffalo and Rochester. Due to this "Southwest Effect", Buffalo Niagara International Airport exceeded the 5,000,000 passenger mark for 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.[8] Buffalo is the largest airport by passenger traffic in upstate New York.

Canadian Travelers

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 travelling to US destinations. In fact, about one of every three passengers of all passengers utilizing the airport is from Canada.[9] Airfares from Canadian airports to the US are generally higher due to multiple issues which include: fewer competing airlines in Canada, higher taxes, customs and immigration surcharges imposed on international flights, higher operating costs, a higher than historic value of the Canadian Dollar and airport improvement fees imposed on travellers at Canadian airports. There are many shuttles between the airport and cities throughout Southern Ontario.

Airlines and Destinations

Buffalo Niagara International Airport is the largest, and one of the fastest growing airports in Upstate New York. On average there are 110 flights per day, and BNIA has nonstop flights to and from 21 cities across the continental US.[10]

Airlines Destinations Gate(s)
AirTran Airways Atlanta, Ft. Myers (Seasonal), Orlando 14
American Eagle Chicago O'Hare 11
Continental Connection operated by Colgan Air Newark 24,26
Continental Connection operated by CommutAir Cleveland 24,26
Continental Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines Cleveland 24,26
Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Newark 24,26
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul (Seasonal) 19, 21, 23, 25
Delta Connection operated by Chautauqua Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky 19, 21, 23, 25
Delta Connection operated by Comair Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (Ends 4/5),Detroit, New York-JFK 23, 25
Delta Connection operated by Freedom Airlines Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Detroit 19, 21, 23, 25
Delta Connection operated by Mesaba Airlines Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul (both seasonal) 19, 21, 23, 25
Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul (Seasonal) 19, 21, 23, 25
JetBlue Airways Boston, Ft. Myers [Seasonal], Fort Lauderdale, New York-JFK, Orlando 7,8
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa 16,18
United Airlines Chicago O'Hare 10,12
United Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles 10,12
United Express operated by Mesa Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles 10,12
United Express operated by Shuttle America Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles 10,12
US Airways Charlotte, Philadelphia 3, 4, 5, 6
US Airways Express operated by Air Wisconsin Boston, New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington-Reagan 3, 4, 5, 6
US Airways Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines Boston 3, 4, 5, 6
US Airways Express operated by Colgan Air Albany (NY), Rochester (NY) 3, 4, 5, 6
US Airways Express operated by Mesa Airlines Charlotte 3, 4, 5, 6
US Airways Express operated by Piedmont Airlines New York-LaGuardia, Boston, Philadelphia 3, 4, 5, 6
US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines Philadelphia, Washington-Reagan 3, 4, 5, 6

Cargo Airlines

  • Ameriflight International
  • Air Now (Based in Buffalo)
  • DHL
  • FedEx Express
  • Southwest Cargo
  • UPS Airlines
  • Worldwide Flight Services

[11]

Other

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.[12]

Airline lounges

US Airways operates a US Airways Club near Gate 6.

Accidents and Incidents

A list of incidents involving flights near or en route to Buffalo Niagara International Airport:

  • 1972 - A private plane crashed into a home on Diane Drive in Cheektowaga, New York near Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The crash killed three onboard and three on the ground.[13]
  • December 1, 1974 - Northwest Orient 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 onboard. The pitot heat was not turned on and the 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 onboard 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 scheduled to arrive at Buffalo International Airport and 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 who resided in the home the aircraft crashed into. 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.[14]

See also

References

External links


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