Edinburgh Airport chief slams reader for written '˜attack' on team

The chief executive of Edinburgh Airport has hit back at a Scotsman Reader for '˜attacking' his team in a letter printed in our newspaper.

In Scottish Perspective on Tuesday, aggrieved passenger Sebastian Allaby shared views on his journey through Edinburgh Airport.

I’m disappointed that Mr Allaby did not come to us directly, giving us the opportunity to investigate the detail and take action if necessary. Instead, Mr Allaby chose to complain via a national newspaper.

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Sebastian Allaby: Edinburgh Airport's level of service shames Scotland
The control tower at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Michael Gillen

There are some hard truths from Mr Allaby’s story and we’ll make sure that his voice is heard in our regular discussions about passenger experience. 
However, ironically given the section of the newspaper he was in, he also chose to attack the airport team in an over-the-top way, losing some perspective along the way. I cannot let this go unchallenged.

It cannot be that one bad experience allows an entire team to be attacked in this way. We want all passengers to have a good experience and we know it’s not always the case that they do. It’s something we are working hard at improving. But as a team, we want to hear when we’ve fallen short.

I say team because aviation is a team game. It requires collaboration and co-operation from a number of organisations and agencies. In Mr Allaby’s case – Ryanair’s handling agents Swissport in the check-in hall, our officers in security, Costa Coffee staff in the 
departure lounge, Swissport again at the gate when boarding, then Ryanair on the plane.

This of course doesn’t include Menzies, our other handling agent, 35 other airlines and 32 other retailers; as well as a myriad of other organisations from Police Scotland to UK Border Force.

They all work hard to make sure each of our passengers gets through the airport safely, efficiently, and yes – pleasantly. They do it against the backdrop of growth. Yes, our expansion is rapid and ahead of expectation, but we’ve invested £45m this year on extra terminal space, gates, baggage and international arrivals. Our investment in facilities will double in the next three years.

It’s a team of over 7,000 that helps 50,000 passengers a day through the airport. It’s a team that has won awards for service, that has been commended for the way it treats those with additional needs. It’s a team that rises early and finishes late. It’s a team that works around the clock when adversity strikes – it kept the runway open and passengers warm during the Beast from the East.

So please tell us about your bad experiences. Hold us to task when we’ve fallen short. Talk to us directly. We’ll listen, and we’ll do our best to make it right.

The people that work at the airport are also airport users. Their friends and families use the airport and the team takes pride in the airport’s success. Equally, they truly feel the occasional failures or where congestion and service levels are constrained during busy times.

Mr Allaby is right to highlight where the team fell short – but he is wrong in his wider attack. I hope we can continue this discussion with some perspective.