Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Deford airport small.jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorNiagara Frontier Transportation Authority
ServesBuffalo metropolitan area, Golden Horseshoe
Location4200 Genesee Street
Town of Cheektowaga
Elevation AMSL728 ft / 222 m
Coordinates42°56′26″N 078°43′56″W / 42°56′26″N 078°43′56″W / www.buffaloairport.com
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is located in New York
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is located in the United States
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Statistics (2018)
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]


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]:

Runway Length (ft) Width (ft)
5–23 5,630 150
13–31 (Present 14–32) 5,730 150
1–19 5,000 150
8–26 3,650 150

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.[4]

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]