Jet2 today announced new Spanish and Greek routes from Edinburgh - just as airport chiefs called again for air taxes to be cut to boost growth.
The airline and Jet2holidays will add Costa de Almeria in Spain and Halkidiki in Greece to further swell their biggest-ever flying programme from the capital next summer to 29 routes.
The news came as airport chief executive Gordon Dewar restated his backing for the Scottish Government’s plans to halve air passenger duty (APD) from 2018.
Jet2 managing director Phil Ward revealed to The Scotsman last year that APD had not affected its expansion in Scotland.
It will fly weekly to Costa de Almeria between April and October, and Halkidiki between May and September.
The expansion comes a month after Jet2 added two routes and said it would increase seats from Edinburgh by one third next year.
It will also fly to Girona in Spain and Naples in Italy, with total routes now four more than this year’s 25, which compares to 17 in 2015.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said: “Our biggest ever summer programme has just got even bigger with the addition of these two brand new destinations.
“Costa de Almeria is our 14th Spanish destination and the seventh in mainland Spain, giving people even more holiday choices to this popular country, and we’re thrilled to be giving our customers the chance to visit the beautiful Halkidiki area.”
Mr Dewar said: “This is fantastic news and I’m sure these new routes will prove very popular with Edinburgh passengers.
“Edinburgh Airport is growing through providing choice to its customers.
“We’re delighted to work with partners like Jet2.com and Jet2holidays to do exactly that.”
Hours earlier, Mr Dewar joined Glasgow Airport managing director Amanda McMillan and EasyJet UK director Sophie Dekkers at the Scottish Parliament to demonstrate their support for the planned APD reduction.
The reduction is opposed by all four opposition parties and environmental groups, which could prevent the minority SNP government from getting the plans approved.
Mr Dewar said: “For greater numbers of people from overseas to spend holidays here, visit friends and family, study and do business in Scotland, it is vital the Scottish Government takes this golden opportunity and confirms APD will be reduced by 50 per cent in April 2018.
“A one-move 50 per cent reduction will bring an extra 18 million passengers to Scotland between the cut being confirmed and the end of 2021.
“It will generate 10,000 new jobs in tourism, add more than £300 million Gross Value Added per year to the Scottish economy and generate a range of tax revenues that will comfortably exceed the cost of the reduction.”
In March, he said: “We warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s well documented position that APD is a regressive tax that hampers growth.”
The Greens said the airport’s growth showed its APD claims were bogus.
Transport and tourism spokesman John Finnie said: “Yet again, we see airports exposed for falsely claiming that cutting tax is vital for their growth.
“Cutting APD would be environmentally and socially unjust and I hope the Scottish Government considers a fairer approach.”
Labour environment and climate change spokeswoman Claudia Beamish told MSPs yesterday: “SNP plans to slash air passenger duty are fiscally and environmentally irresponsible, taking millions of pounds out of public services.”
Annual passenger numbers at Edinburgh Airport grew by nearly 11 per cent to a record 11.5 million in the year to April.
Delta last week became the third airline to launch daily flights between Edinburgh and New York, when budget carrier Norwegian also announced it would launch a series of US routes from the capital from next spring.