CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y (WKBW) — Buffalo Niagara International Airport has officially unveiled its newest terminal. The $71.7 million airport upgrades were made to improve travel issues including security, pedestrian flow, curbside congestion, and baggage claim capacity.
The new terminal comes as travel has not fully recovered from the pandemic. The NFTA Executive Director, Kim Minkel, said before March 2020, BNIA was a gateway to five million travelers a year.
Minkel said the airport is back to having 60 percent of the travelers BNIA had before the pandemic, which is about 5,000 passengers a day.
“If you take a look at our parking lots, they are full again,” Minkel said. “I think there is pent-up demand of people wanting to travel and wanting to be out and about. We are ready for them!”
Yet, most international travel at the airport is still at a halt until the U.S-Canadian border opens, which won’t be until at least July 21.
“About 30 percent of the people using this airport were Canadian, so we are anxious to have the border open again,” Minkel said. “For our Niagara Falls airport, about 88 percent were Canadian. Certainly, that airport is feeling the effects of the border being closed.”
Minkel said she believes BNIA did have a role in Buffalo’s economic boom in the last ten years.
“This airport contributes over a billion dollars every year in economic activity,” Minkel said. “Having a first-class airport is so important for economic development.”
Most passengers at the airport travel to New York, Chicago, or Washington D.C. But, Minkel said direct flights to San Francisco and Europe are on the airport’s wishlist.