Edinburgh Airport upbeat about summer readiness as it prepares for record passenger numbers - Alastair Dalton

Scotland’s busiest terminal’s contingency plans in case incoming baggage delays repeated

Edinburgh Airport has had a rollercoaster decade so far, soaring upwards with passenger numbers then plunging to a near shutdown during the Covid pandemic - and it’s now about to rocket again with expected record traffic this summer.

Whatever your views on aviation, Scotland’s busiest airport has become a crucial part of the country’s economy, with its runway described in the past as its biggest single economic asset. It’s because Edinburgh is in the very fortunate position of being as attractive to inbound visitors as the airport has become for Scots flying abroad.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An illustration of this came at the airport consultative committee’s latest meeting on Monday when chief executive Gordon Dewar mentioned that passengers on Virgin Atlantic’s Orlando route - ostensibly for Florida-bound holidaymakers - comprised up to 15 per cent Americans, compared to just 2 per cent before the route was switched from Glasgow.

Mr Dewar was very upbeat at the meeting over the airport’s summer prospects, with the impending boost from additional flights, including JetBlue becoming its third airline to New York this month, likely to push its annual passenger total beyond 15 million.

The chief executive had been gloomy at the watchdog body’s last meeting in February at the prospect of a repeat of the baggage problems that have plagued the airport over the past two summers, which it has attributed to the airlines’ handling agents, due to staff shortages and luggage missing flight connections from hub airports like Heathrow.

However, Mr Dewar was far more positive on Monday, talking of “more resilience” being planned for such “short shift” bags than previously. He said that would mean “we’re able to respond if we do get disruptions in the system - I’m pretty happy that we’re as well prepared as we can be”.

He was also optimistic about everything else, including the installation of new security scanners that will eventually - but not yet - enable passengers to carry more liquids in their hand luggage and not need to take out electronic equipment for checking.

Mr Dewar said the one machine deployed so far was working “extremely well” and even outperforming expectations. A second lane is due to be added by the end of June and the process completed by the end of the year.

Airports have been given more time to introduce the technology after protests, such as from Jet2, claiming the UK would otherwise become a “world leader in queues and chaos”.

Overall, Mr Dewar said the airport was “on the whole in really good shape for the summer”, with companies such as handling agents expecting to be “fully staffed and ready”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said improvements to the terminal were also on track to be ready for the summer peak at the end of June, such as upgrades to the check-in hall and shops.

The airport has been hugely frustrated that negative headlines about some passengers’ poor experiences have threatened to tarnish its reputation, stressing the cause of such shortcomings lay elsewhere.

But this is always likely to be a problem when the airport is effectively an enabling body for the airlines and many associated businesses which operate there. Please let me know of your experience there this summer, good or bad, and let’s see if 2024 is a case of third time lucky for the airport.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.