Jan. 20--With 4.8 million passengers passing through its gates, 2005 was another record-breaking year for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
The count topped the airport's 2004 record of the 4.4 million travelers.
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Executive Director Lawrence M. Meckler credited the airport's mix of traditional and low-cost airlines and the facility's ease of access for yet-another year of strong growth.
"Just 10 years ago the cost of flying out of Western New York was prohibitive. It's amazing how things have turned around. Now we're drawing travelers from outside the Buffalo area because of what we have to offer," Meckler said.
A total of 4,868,890 travelers used the Buffalo airport last year, up 10.2 percent from the 2004 tally of 4,458,472. Nationwide, airports averaged a 5.03 percent climb in passengers. This marks the second year in a row the NFTA has set a fresh passenger milestone.
"We have our fingers crossed that we'll hit the magical 5 million mark in 2006," said William Vanecek, the airport's aviation director.
As 2006 kicks off there is good reason to think the flyer count will go up, with word from two airlines that they will add flights in the next few months. JetBlue has informed the NFTA it will boost its schedule from seven to eight daily flights starting in February. The low-cost airline offers flights from Buffalo to its hub at JFK International Airport where travelers can connect to its nationwide menu of destinations.
AirTran Airlines has also announced a new direct flight from Buffalo to Orlando. The new Saturday-only flight will debut on Feb. 6. This is first time since 1997 that the airline has offered a direct to Florida flight in the Buffalo market.
Meanwhile, US Airways is trimming a couple of Buffalo routes. The airline is eliminating one of its four non-stop flights to Boston this month, and will also reduce its direct service to Philadelphia from six to five daily flights. The sixth flight will resume in March.
During Thursday's meeting of the NFTA's Aviation Committee, members were also told USA 3000 will offer charter service to Cancun from mid-February through early May.
AeroMexico will also fly local residents to Cancun from Buffalo via FunJet Vacations starting next month.
A carrier must operate a minimum of one, 50-seat flight per week for four consecutive months to qualify for the fee waivers.
Festival Airlines plans flights to Orlando and Las Vegas, and will add the Caribbean and Mexico during the winter.
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