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Major upgrade coming to the Buffalo Airport

Posted at 11:30 AM, Jan 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 19:42:30-05

The Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BNIA) is scheduled to get a $65 million renovation starting this fall and running through 2019.  Money for the project is coming from passenger facility charges collected from tickets sold at the airport and funds from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) as well as state sources.

Part of the airport's success is due to the influx of Canadian travelers who use both the Buffalo and Niagara Falls airports on a regular basis.  It is estimated that 5 million travelers used BNIA in 2016 with around 35% of those coming from Southern Ontario.

The expansion plans include the following:

-New walkways at the east and west ends of the terminal to provide direct access to escalators for ground floor baggage claims.

-Four baggage carousels to replace the current baggage system.

-Bigger area for "lost" and delayed baggage.

-New play area for children along with a tech center providing work space and cellphone charging.

-New protected bus waiting area on the lower level.

-Relocating concessions such as the Lake Erie Grill

-New curb space at both ends of the terminal

-Changes to the terminal's internal traffic flow so visitors to the airport offices will no longer need a security escort.

The NFTA is taking the action to prepare for the future and the possibility of nonstop flights by foreign airlines.  Buffalo is getting more attention because of congestion at other Northeast airports.

William Vanacek, NFTA Director of Aviation, told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that the majority of the upgrade is being paid with money collected from the "Passenger Facility Charge."  That is a $4.50 fee added to the purchase of plane tickets from the BNIA.  It generates $11 to $12 million a year for the NFTA, and by law, can only be reinvested into airport operations.

The rest of the money will come from NFTA savings and New York State.

Construction is hoped to start by the end of year.