SCOTLAND’S busiest airport intensified competition with its main rival by claiming to be the country’s “airport of choice”.
Edinburgh’s boast came as it announced a record September, when passenger numbers increased by 9 per cent to 958,944 compared to last year.
Rivals Glasgow saw a 3.8 per cent rise to 764,400.
The airports are growing at a similar annual rate – Edinburgh by 3.6 per cent and Glasgow by 3.2 per cent – although the capital’s airport is 2.3 million passengers ahead, at 9.6m.
Edinburgh airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said it had enjoyed “massive growth” over its busiest-ever summer, with monthly passengers reaching one million for the first time in July.
He said: “We’ve clearly been the airport of choice and this is a great validation for Edinburgh airport and the city as a whole.”
The comment comes days after leading travel pundit Simon Calder said Edinburgh and Glasgow were “fighting like cats and dogs over every new route”.
Mr Dewar used the “Scotland’s airport of choice” phrase as Edinburgh’s slogan three years ago during his previous stint in charge of the airport.
It was scrapped by Kevin Brown, his successor, to “set the bar higher”. He substituted it for “Inspiring Journeys”, in the airport’s quest for more long-haul flights.
Edinburgh won a route to Toronto this year, which will be increased in frequency in 2014 and complemented by a new link to Chicago, but it has still to secure a long-sought Middle Eastern link.
By contrast, the airport has watched as Glasgow’s Emirates flights to Dubai were doubled to twice a day last year, with the airline now even considering using Airbus A380 superjumbos on the route.
Mr Dewar returned to Edinburgh last year, when it was sold by the former BAA, which owns Glasgow. Edinburgh’s slogan is now “Where Scotland Meets the World”.
Glasgow airport declined to respond to Mr Dewar’s claim, stating that “the numbers speak for themselves”.
The west coast airport prides itself instead on being “Scotland’s principal long-haul airport”, its largest for charter flights, and serving the most Scottish destinations. Edinburgh has more flights to London and more European routes.
Glasgow airport managing director Amanda McMillan said: “It is very encouraging to be able to follow what was our best summer in five years with further passenger growth in September. There were a number of events within Glasgow during September, including the Liberal Democrats’ autumn conference, which contributed to a strong demand for domestic services, and with the SSE Hydro now open, the city can look forward to attracting even more large-scale events.”Both airports have more than 100 routes, with 40 airlines in Edinburgh and 30 in Glasgow