Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport.jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorNiagara Frontier Transportation Authority
ServesBuffalo metropolitan area, Golden Horseshoe
Location4200 Genesee Street
Cheektowaga, New York
Elevation AMSL728 ft / 222 m
Coordinates42°56′26″N 078°43′56″W / 42.94056°N 78.73222°W / 42.94056; -78.73222
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.

FAA airport diagram
BUF is located in New York
Location within New York state
BUF is located in the United States
BUF (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
05/23 8,829 2,691 Asphalt
14/32 7,161 2,183 Asphalt
Statistics (2021)
Total Passengers2,896,000

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (IATA: BUF, ICAO: KBUF, FAA LID: BUF) is in Cheektowaga,[2] New York. The airport serves Buffalo, New York, United States, 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 miles (18 km) east of Downtown Buffalo and 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Toronto (although driving distance is 106 miles (171 km)). The airport covers 1,000 acres (400 ha).[3][4]


West terminal in 1974
West terminal in 1974

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 3,000 feet (910 m) long by 100 feet (30 m) wide. Passenger and mail service began in December 1927, with service to Cleveland. A WPA-built Art Deco v-shaped terminal with a large cylindrical tower began construction in 1938 and was completed in 1939. In 1940–41 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, the airport was expanded to facilitate aircraft manufacturing, test and acceptance flight activity, and airline flights. The airport had four paved runways: Runway 5/23 was 5,630 feet (1,720 m) long, Runway 13/31 (now 14/32) was 5,730 feet (1,750 m) long, Runway 1/19 was 5,000 feet (1,500 m) long, and Runway 8/26 was 3,650 feet (1,110 m) long. All of the runways were 150 feet (46 m) wide.[5]

A new apron was added a few months later. Roadway and parkway improvements were made in the 1940s and 50s. Runways 1–19 and 8–26 were closed in the 1950s, 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 built in 1955. 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. The first scheduled jets were American and United 727s in 1965; Runway 5–23 was extended northeast from 5,645 feet (1,721 m) to 8,100 feet (2,500 m) later that year. A second terminal (the "West Terminal") was built in 1971 while it was hoped 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 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 after 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 allow Runway 14/32 to be lengthened. 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 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.[6]

Current terminal

In 1991 it was decided a new terminal would make more sense than continued renovations. 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 the number of gates to 24. The entire terminal has a total floor area of 462,256 square feet (42,945.0 m2).[7]


In late 2017 the terminal began an $80 million renovation and expansion with more than 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2) of new space as part of the airport's 2013 master plan.[7] The expansion will create secure walkways on the east and west side of the terminal for arriving passengers and relocate the central exit walkway to eliminate bottlenecks with departing passengers on the second floor. This will also create expanded curbside space for arriving and departing passengers. The renovation will also replace the baggage claim area's three flat plate baggage carousels with four sloped plate carousels, doubling the current capacity. Preparations began December 2018, and groundbreaking and major construction began in February 2019.[8] The renovations were completed in 2021. As part of the master plan, this expansion allows for the creation of a new pier south of the current east concourse.[7]



Buffalo Niagara International Airport is at elevation 727 feet (222 m) and has two runways.[9]

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, with Approach Lighting Systems (ALS) at each end.
14/32 7,161 feet (2,183 m) 150 feet (46 m) Cat. I (32[10] only) Runway 14 approach does not have ILS, nor ALS.

Emergency services

Buffalo Airport Fire Department responds to all fire and emergency medical aid calls in the terminal complex and adjacent property. The airport was formerly served by Buffalo Fire Department Engine 7 (crash-fire-rescue unit) until 1981 and was transferred to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.[11] A new $11 million fire station was completed in 2017. The facility is off of Amherst Villa Road, triple the size of the old station and includes a training facility and other amenities.[12]

Other facilities

Tac Air 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 on the airport's north side.[13] Prior to Tac Air taking over FBO operations in October 2020, Prior Aviation was the FBO.[14]


The airspace above Buffalo is prone to high flight traffic due to its proximity to Toronto Pearson International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Hamilton International Airport. Most of these flights are inbound or outbound from destinations in the United States, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. Aircraft descending into the Toronto area use waypoints in Buffalo as part of their Standard Arrival Route (STARS) from the south.[15] These aircraft are still well above 6,500 feet (2,000 m) and do not affect the air traffic of Buffalo.

Service history

Buffalo Niagara Control Tower
Buffalo Niagara Control Tower

The April 1957 OAG shows 96 weekday departures: 55 American, 28 Capital, 10 Mohawk and 3 Allegheny. Nonstops didn't reach past Boston, New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago; Buffalo didn't get a nonstop beyond Chicago until Mohawk started Minneapolis in 1970. Continental tried Denver for a few months in 1987–88, American tried DFW a couple of times, and Northwest started Minneapolis in 1987—no others until Southwest started Phoenix and Las Vegas in October 2000.

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. Buffalo still hosts many mainline passenger jets, but scheduled flights are usually narrow-body (single-aisle) aircraft. Today, Buffalo hosts wide-body charter flights for the Buffalo Bills or their National Football League opponents.

Shortly after deregulation of the U.S. airline industry, 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 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. 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. 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 at Buffalo included:

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.[16] 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, which began service from Buffalo in 2017.[17]

Canadian travelers

The proximity of Buffalo Niagara International Airport to the 9.2 million[18] residents of the Golden Horseshoe region (which includes the metropolitan areas of Greater Toronto and Hamilton) in Ontario makes it a very popular airport for Canadians traveling to U.S. destinations. Despite the existence of three international airports in the region that provide cross-border flights (Toronto Pearson International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport), one in three passengers utilizing Buffalo are from Canada[19] and in 2012, 47 percent of all passengers were from Canada.[20] This is due to air fares for US-bound Canadian flights being generally higher due to added customs and immigration surcharges, the value difference of Canadian and U.S. currency, and other taxes and fees. Several passenger shuttle services operate from the airport to cities in Southern Ontario, and to Toronto-Pearson and Hamilton airports.

Due to U.S. COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions that require COVID-19 testing for international arrivals via air travel, Toronto-based professional sports teams have similarly used the airport as a travel hub, having their players transported by bus from Toronto since land crossings and domestic flights are not subject to testing.[21]

Airlines and destinations

On average there are over 100 flights per day, with nonstop service to 30 airports across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.[22]


American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth
Seasonal: Philadelphia
American Eagle Chicago–O'Hare, Philadelphia, Washington–National
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Connection Detroit, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia
Frontier Airlines Atlanta, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Raleigh/Durham
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York–JFK, Orlando
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, San Juan
Sun Country Airlines Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare
Seasonal: Newark, Washington–Dulles
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Newark, Washington–Dulles


Ameriflight Binghamton, Elmira, Plattsburgh
FedEx Express Syracuse, Indianapolis, Memphis, Ottawa
UPS Airlines Hartford, Louisville, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham,[23] Syracuse


Total passengers

Annual passenger traffic at BUF airport. See Wikidata query.
Year Total Passengers % Change
2002[24] 3,716,000 Steady
2003[24] 4,013,000 Increase 7.99%
2004[24] 4,348,000 Increase 8.35%
2005[24] 4,804,000 Increase 10.49%
2006[24] 4,983,000 Increase 3.73%
2007[24] 5,405,000 Increase 8.47%
2008[24] 5,461,000 Increase 1.04%
2009[24] 5,278,000 Decrease 3.35%
2010[24] 5,194,000 Decrease 1.59%
2011[24] 5,110,000 Decrease 1.62%
2012[24] 5,145,000 Increase 0.68%
2013[24] 5,101,000 Decrease 0.86%
2014[24] 4,720,000 Decrease 7.47%
2015[24] 4,643,000 Decrease 1.63%
2016[24] 4,606,000 Decrease 0.79%
2017[24] 4,670,000 Increase 1.39%
2018[24] 5,015,000 Increase 7.39%
2019[24] 4,892,000 Decrease 2.45%
2020[24] 1,395,000 Decrease 71.48%^
2021[24] 2,896,000 Increase 107.59%

^Sharp decrease in traffic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from BUF (September 2021 - August 2022)[24]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Florida Orlando, Florida 202,000 Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest
2 Illinois Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 173,000 American, United
3 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, Georgia 171,000 Delta, Frontier
4 Maryland Baltimore, Maryland 166,000 Southwest
5 New York (state) New York–JFK, New York 153,000 Delta, JetBlue
6 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina 123,000 American
7 Michigan Detroit, Michigan 116,000 Delta
8 Illinois Chicago–Midway, Illinois 108,000 Southwest
9 Florida Tampa, Florida 92,000 Frontier, Southwest
10 New Jersey Newark, New Jersey 73,000 United

Airline market share

Largest Airlines at BUF
(September 2021 - August 2022)
Rank Carrier Percentage Passengers
1 Southwest Airlines 27.23% 1,053,000
2 Delta Air Lines 13.69% 529,000
3 American Airlines 11.00% 425,000
4 JetBlue 10.95% 423,000
5 Frontier Airlines 9.68% 374,000
- Other 27.45% 1,061,000

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 and Megabus also provide transportation to and from the airport, with services to Toronto and New York City, (dropping off at 34th and 11th avenues).[25]

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


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

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  2. ^ "Cheektowaga CDP, New York Archived June 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on May 25, 2009.
  3. ^ FAA Airport Form 5010 for BUF PDF, effective September 8, 2022.
  4. ^ "BUF airport data at skyvector.com". skyvector.com. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  5. ^ "Buffalo Niagara International Airport Interim Report No. 1 – 1999" (PDF). January 13, 1999.
  6. ^ "It's official: Road near stadium becomes Tim Russert Highway: The Buffalo News".
  7. ^ a b c "2013 Sustainable Master Plan | Buffalo Niagara International Airport". Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Buffalo Niagara International Airport | AirNav". Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  10. ^ FAA
  11. ^ "Terms of agreement - stuntoffer.com". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.
  12. ^ Herr, Jim (August 23, 2017). "State-of-the-art station for Buffalo airport firefighters". Cheektowaga Chronicle. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "Tac Air". Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  14. ^ "Prior Aviation Service". Archived from the original on September 23, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  15. ^ http://www.fly-sea.com/charts/CYYZ.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  16. ^ "BNIA passenger count tops 5M". Buffalo Business First.
  17. ^ "Frontier Airlines launching service from Buffalo". WKBW. July 18, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  18. ^ "Data". mah.gov.on.ca.
  19. ^ "Hamilton Breaking News – Hamilton's Online Newspaper". The Hamilton Spectator.
  20. ^ "jetBlue first flight from BUF to LAX takes off".
  21. ^ Tsujimoto, Ben. "Unexpected hub: Buffalo airport plays key role in pro sports transportation". Buffalo News. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
  22. ^ "Buffalo Niagara International Airport". Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
  23. ^ "5X2132 (UPS2132) United Parcel Service Flight Tracking and History".
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "RITA – BTS – Transtats".
  25. ^ "Buffalo International Airport Ground Transportation". Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  26. ^ "WBFO NewsRoom".
  27. ^ Buffalo Courier Express July 21, 1977
  28. ^ BETSY'S PLANE CRASH A CLOSE CALL, FEDS SAY, NY Daily News, March 6, 1998. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  29. ^ Matthew L. Wald and Al Baker (February 14, 2009). "Crew Reported 'Significant Ice Buildup' Before Crash". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  30. ^ "Skywest plane makes emergency landing in Buffalo after passenger loses consciousness". CBS News. April 22, 2015.
  31. ^ ABC News. "Plane Goes Off Runway at Buffalo Niagara International Airport; No Injuries Reported". ABC News.
  32. ^ Eileen Buckley (February 13, 2019). "No one hurt when plane slides into a passenger jet bridge". WBFO. Retrieved February 13, 2019.