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Passenger count at Buffalo Niagara International Airport is down: bad for Western New York?

Posted at 8:55 AM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-23 08:56:07-04

The number of passengers traveling through airports across the nation is on the rise, but locally, numbers are steadily declining. 

Since peaking in 2008 at 2.7 million passengers, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport has seen a decrease of 16% as of 2016. 

Nationally, airport travel peaked in 2007 and has grown 22% as of 2016, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Despite adding more flight destinations, like a seasonal non-stop Denver flight and a direct LA flight, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is failing to boost the number of passengers through its gates. 

NFTA Spokesperson Helen Tederous says this decline isn't worrisome. "We're not concerned with that. We're very comfortable with our numbers, we look at them in a very over-arching way. We know they're cyclical in nature," says Tederous. When asked for reasoning as to why the numbers are sloping, Tederous provided these possibilities:

  • Weak Canadian to U.S. exchange rate
  • Competition: airlines are going through a lot of mergers and acquisitions, resulting in less frequent flights out of medium-sized airports like BNIA
  • Price of oil: ticket prices fluctuate based on fuel prices, higher ticket prices means less leisure trips
  • Holidays: when holidays fall on certain days of the week, travelers are less likely to take extra time off for a trip; preferring long weekends for air travel

Tederous says the NFTA is not directly making changes to recruit more passengers because of the declining numbers, rather they're always looking to make improvements to better serve customers.

Good news: as of this point in 2017 compared to last year, the BNIA is seeing an increase of passengers by more than 45,000.

The BNIA is undergoing a $65 million renovation this fall