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Seven new gates will be added to the East Concourse of Buffalo Niagara International Airport under a $90.6 million project approved by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners.

The sale of as much as $102 million worth of bonds to cover the Airport Improvement Project, including closing costs and possible cost overruns, also has been approved, NFTA Chairman Luis F. Kahl said Wednesday.

"Based on the present demand we have from our current airlines for additional gates and the desire to be in a favorable position to attract additional ones, especially low-cost carriers, now is the right time to proceed with AIP 2000," Kahl said.

"Without competitive air fares, we will not succeed in our task to create new jobs and promote economic development," he added.

Four of the new gates are expected to be open in September 2000 and the remaining three the following December. Cost of the addition is estimated at $46.8 million. Work is scheduled to start this month.

The project also involves the construction of 50,000 square yards of additional aircraft parking apron. Also involved is the relocation of a section of taxiway D, creation of a taxiway lane and the resurfacing of taxiway K. That portion is estimated to cost $17.6 million.

About 2,100 additional parking spaces will be added and the East entrance to the terminal will be relocated by December 2000 at a cost of $26.2 million.

"We have received extraordinary support from Gov. Pataki, who has participated with us in attracting and welcoming new airlines to our airport and from our congressional delegation, which has been extremely instrumental in getting us the funds for this and other infrastructure projects," Kahl added.

Commissioner William N. Hudson Jr., chairman of the Aviation Committee, said, "The significance of this project cannot be overstated as it relates to the future growth of (the airport) and the Niagara region.

He also noted that Standard and Poor's Rating Group and Fitch Investing Service L.P. both have assigned their highest municipal bond rating of AAA to the Series 1999 Bonds.

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