The interior of the new Buffalo airport terminal appeared a bit rough around the edges Friday, but NFTA commissioners were assured following a tour that all will be ready for the grand opening in two weeks.
"There is no reason for anyone to be concerned whether this place will be ready and fit for opening day," said Mark R. Mendell, president of Cannon Associates. "The mood is very positive on the job . . . a tremendous transformation is taking place."
Workers were beginning to polish the decorative floor of the 230-foot-long concessions corridor that will be the site of a gala cocktail party Oct. 30. More than 2,200 invited guests are expected.
In other areas, seats were being installed at gate areas, concessionaires were installing equipment, craftsmen were fine-tuning the distinctive bar, and retailer Maria Westman showed off boutique space that looked more appropriate to an upscale shopping center than an airport.
Mendell said the $55 million terminal is 98 percent complete and has $450,000 remaining uncommitted in its contingency budget. Work on the garage and other aspects of the project also are on time.
Workers are there from 7 a.m. to midnight weekdays, and on weekends as well.
The first flight is scheduled to leave from the new terminal Nov. 3. For four days before that, the facility will be the site of two open houses for the public, a ball for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and a cocktail bash kicked off by crooner Michael Civisca singing "Come Fly With Me."
The only sour note for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Airport Committee was an internal report that air fares for business people continued to increase between the end of August and early October.
The average walk-up fare jumped from $794 to $815 during that period, with the largest increase to Atlanta, which went up from $866 Aug. 27 to $910 Oct. 7.
Seven-day advanced purchases also increased.
For leisure travelers, 21-day advanced purchase tickets increased on average from $232 to $254.
NFTA officials are hopeful that AirTran Airlines, the successor to ValuJet, may bring additional service to Buffalo and expect to hear soon about the airline's decision. The authority has asked AirTran for flights to Boston and Atlanta.
A sales call also is planned Thursday to Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. Southwest is widely considered to be the nation's premier low-fare carrier and has been hotly pursued by many communities seeking to lower their air fares.