A study, conducted by BiGGAR Economics, has found that almost £1 billion is contributed to Scotland’s economy through Edinburgh Airport, as well as supporting almost 23,000 jobs across the country. By 2020, the study predicts that the sixth busiest airport in the UK will be worth between £1.1 billion and £1.6 billion GVA per year, with the level of economic activity supporting up to 40,300 Scottish jobs. Around £507.1 million of this impact would be retained in the Greater Edinburgh area.
Edinburgh Airport continues to grow in accordance to its masterplan, which predicts passenger numbers will grow to 12.3 million per annum by 2020. Having recorded its busiest year in 2015, serving 11.3 million passengers, this appears easily achievable; especially as Scotland’s busiest airport is experiencing huge growth in international passenger numbers this year.
Latest figures released by the airport for the first two months of 2016 show a continuation of its growth. January saw a 21.7 percent increase in international passenger numbers, whereas February 2016 was the airport’s busiest February ever with a 30.4 percent increase from 372,765 international passengers.
New routes will be introduced this year by airlines including Jet2.com, Norwegian, Thomson Airways and Vueling, while Finnair, Estonian carrier Nordica, Transavia France and WOWair will launch flights from the airport during 2016.
“This growth is yet further confirmation of Edinburgh Airport’s position as the leader for business and tourism connectivity between Scotland and international destinations,” said Gordon Dewar, chief executive officer, Edinburgh Airport.
Managing growth is one of the main challenges for Edinburgh Airport. They have conducted a trial of a new flight path in order to deal with growing passenger numbers. The TUTUR trial was conducted to find a way for planes to depart every minute of peak times, as opposed to every two minutes. This would relieve congestion at the airport, and make the runway more efficient. A total of 944 taxi minutes were saved during the trial, as was nine tonnes of fuel and 30 tonnes of CO2 and a subsequent report found the trial to be a success.
“Edinburgh Airport is an increasingly important economic asset for the country as a whole, and these figures demonstrate just how important a competitive airport is for a country with Scotland’s ambition and international profile,” said Dewar.
The airport’s growth in recent years has been supported by one of the largest private investments of its kind in national infrastructure, to build new facilities and attract an unprecedented number of new, direct international connections to Scotland.
“The challenge for us now is to grow the airport responsibly, working with our neighbours and with our partners in the City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Government and elsewhere to sustain the social and economic benefits of an airport that is Scotland’s principal gateway to the world,” added Dewar.
The Edinburgh Airport offer has grown 12.5 percent since the start of the decade data from intelligence provider, OAG, shows, an average annual rise of 2.6 percent. Last year it recorded its fastest rate of year-on-year growth since the start of the Century with capacity up 8.2 percent. Despite the loss of Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red domestic services to London this year – approximately 500,000 to 750,000 annual two-way seats - and full winter operations yet to be fully confirmed, published schedules for 2016 already shows a capacity growth of 2.1 percent this year.
Over the last five years the airport has welcomed the major new long-haul brands of American Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and United Airlines as well as the first flights from the likes of Atlantic Airways, Brussels Airlines, Turkish Airlines and more. It has also seen major capacity growth from the likes of SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Thomson Airways as well as continued expansion from both low-fare (easyJet, Jet2.com, Norwegian) and legacy operators (KLM and Lufthansa).
easyJet remains the airport’s largest operator and has offered more than three million annual seats in and out of Edinburgh since 2011. Last year it had a 26.8 percent share of capacity, ahead of Ryanair (16.4 percent share), British Airways (16.2 percent share) and Flybe (13.3 percent share).