Edinburgh Airport hopes for Ryder Cup boost

EDINBURGH Airport will hope this month’s Ryder Cup reverses a fall in UK passengers after it took the shine off a record August announced today.

Edinburgh Airport expects to be the main air gateway for the Ryder Cup. Picture: Neil Hanna
Edinburgh Airport expects to be the main air gateway for the Ryder Cup. Picture: Neil Hanna

The 1.9 per cent fall in domestic traffic compared to a year ago came despite a record-breaking Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, and is the second monthly drop in a row after 14 months of growth.

Scotland’s busiest airport handled a total of 1,065,783 passengers last month, an increase of 2.9 per cent, which took its annual total to nearly 10.1 million.

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Officials said it was not immediately apparent why UK passenger numbers had fallen.

They said Virgin Atlantic’s previously-struggling Little Red route to Heathrow “performed well” in August, with planes up to 70 per cent full this summer compared to around half full last winter.

A spokeswoman for the airline, which denied a report this week it would close Little Red, said today: “We have seen good growth in passenger traffic and load factors [proportion of seats filled] on all the Little Red routes this year.” It also flies to Heathrow from Aberdeen and Manchester.

Edinburgh’s international passenger numbers, which account for 60 per cent of the total, increased by 6.4 per cent.

The airport attributed this partially to the increased popularity of established EasyJet routes to Krakow, Alicante and Lisbon.

Chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and we’ve been busy preparing to make sure we play our part.”

The airport expects to be the main air gateway for the golf tournament at Gleneagles in two weeks’ time.

Glasgow Airport reported a 4.9 per cent increase in passengers in August to 782,400, boosted by Commonwealth Games atheletes and officials flying home.

Its annual total reached nearly 7.6m, but UK passenger numbers also fell in August by 0.5 per cent after being unchanged the previous month.

Managing director Amanda McMillan said the World Pipe Band Championships and UDO World Street Dance Championships had also helped with the overall growth.

Sister airport Aberdeen saw passenger numbers soar by 8.8 per cent to 339,656 last month, and to almost 3.7m over the last year. UK passengers were up by 5.2 per cent.

Managing director Carol Benzie said the airport had been boosted by more summer sun routes, including charter flights.