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USAir Slows at BNIA; NF Air Traffic Keeps Rising
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Hurricane Irene and flooding conditions downstate and across portions of the East Coast are being blamed for a drop in people flying out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport last month.
According to statistics compiled by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, operators of BNIA and Niagara Falls International Airport, passenger counts were down 2.57 percent in August. In hard numbers, the airport handled 252,783 outbound passengers in August compared with 259,446 for the same month last year.
“With the hurricane and floods, we kind of expected that,” said William Vanecek, NFTA director of aviation. “We expect to regain some of those numbers, but not all of them.”
Vanecek predicted the airport will handle more than 5 million inbound and outbound passengers this year.
For the year-to-date, passenger counts at the airport are still on the rise.
Through August, the airport handled 1,761,083 outbound passengers compared with 1,756,986 last year, a slight 0.23 percent increase.
Southwest remains the airport’s busiest carrier, handling 27 percent of all outbound passengers. In August, the airline handled 72,441 outbound passengers, up 1.93 percent from the 71,066 who took one of its flights in August 2010.
Among the other airlines servicing Buffalo Niagara International:
• Delta/Northwest was the second busiest airline, handling 18 percent of all outbound passengers. During August, the recently merged air carrier handled 44,871 outbound passengers, down 0.9 percent from last August when it handled 45,302 outbound passengers.
• JetBlue was the third-busiest airline as it handled 41,411 outbound passengers, a 3.86 percent increase from last August when it handled 39,871 outbound fliers.
• USAirways, once the busiest airline at the airport, dropped to the fourth busiest slot as it handled 36,452 outbound passengers, a 17.9 percent drop from August 2010 when it handled 44,422 outbound passengers. USAirways reduced a number of flights in the past year.
• United Airlines fell to the fifth-busiest airline at the airport as it handled 23,016 outbound passengers last month. One year ago, it handled 23,232 outbound passengers, less than 1 percent more than this past August.
• AirTran, which is merging with Southwest, reported a 13.8 percent increase in outbound passengers, to 16,372 last month from 14,384 outbound fliers in August 2010. AirTran is the airport’s sixth-busiest carrier.
• Continental Airlines saw its outbound passenger count drop 22.32 percent in August to 10,951 falling from 14,097 outbound fliers last year. Continental is the airport’s seventh-busiest airline.
• American Airlines, the airport’s eighth-busiest carrier, reported a 5.12 percent increase in outbound passenger traffic to 6,921 last month from 6,584 outbound passengers last August.
Meanwhile at Niagara Falls International Airport, Vanecek said it is very likely the Niagara County terminal will exceed the 100,000 outbound passenger for this first time in its history.
The airport, which is currently serviced by low-cost, limited service carriers DirectAir and Spirit Airlines, handled 9,766 outbound passengers in August, a 220.8 percent from last year when it handled 3,044 outbound passengers.
Through August, the airport handled 64,049 outbound passengers, a 181.9 percent hike from last year when it handled 22,720 outbound passengers.
Passenger counts are expected to continue to balloon at Niagara Falls when Allegiant Airline begins service to Tampa/St. Petersburg in December.
Allegiant announced its service to Niagara Falls earlier this month.
“We were very happy to get Allegiant,” Vanecek said. “We’ve been after them a long time, since the early 2000s. I think the presence of the airlines is helping us get new air carriers.”