Travel at Buffalo airport holds steady, as air travel across the country reaches a pandemic peak

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The rush of holiday travelers is something passengers flying out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Christmas Eve said they won’t miss.

“This is actually perfect for me because I could just walk straight in,” said Victor Gurra.

NFTA Director of Public Affairs Helen Tederous said the airport isn’t seeing holiday spikes like some other parts of the country are.

“We are not seeing one particular day over the other as being particularly busy,” she said.

Across the country, TSA screened nearly 1.2 million passengers on Wednesday, the busiest day since the pandemic began. Tederous said the NFTA will know how many passengers came through it’s airport on Christmas Eve in about a week.

“We can estimate that it’s pretty much the same,” Tederous said. “There may be some bumps with a flight here and there that is a little bit busier than normal, but for the most part we are still holding steady at about 20%. So we’re operating at about 20%, and that’s an estimation.”

COVID-19 is not the only reason for less travel. Canadians make up 30% of passengers at BNIA, Tederous said that continues to be a big challenge as the U.S. Canadian border remains closed.

One challenge traveler Mary Julian of Wales almost faced, a snow storm.

“I was supposed to come back tomorrow, and I changed my flight,” she said. “I didn’t want to get stuck anywhere.”

Julian made it home in time for Christmas.

Tederous said there could be more inbound travelers after Christmas and New Year’s Day, but nothing compared to pre-pandemic levels. In past years, she said the Saturday before Christmas would see the most travelers.

The CDC and local leaders advise against traveling for the holidays. The CDC says it is safest to spend the holidays at home with people you live with.

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