Why Edinburgh Airport's operating profit has almost doubled

Scotland’s busiest terminal expecting to handle a record 15 million passengers this year

Scotland’s busiest airport’s bounce back from a near standstill during the Covid pandemic has been confirmed by its latest accounts which showed operating profits soared last year compared to 2022.

Edinburgh Airport’s newly-published annual figures for 2023 revealed they increased by 77 per cent to nearly £145 million.

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Overall profit was up from nearly £79m to £88m, although combined debt and loans increased slightly to £1.1 billion.

The company, which now describes itself as “Scotland’s Airport”, said the rise in profits reflected the increased income from a 28 per cent increase in passenger numbers from 11.3 million to 14.4m.

Edinburgh Airport said it had recovered from the Covid pandemic more quickly than expected. (Photo by Lisa Fergsuon/The Scotsman)Edinburgh Airport said it had recovered from the Covid pandemic more quickly than expected. (Photo by Lisa Fergsuon/The Scotsman)
Edinburgh Airport said it had recovered from the Covid pandemic more quickly than expected. (Photo by Lisa Fergsuon/The Scotsman) | LISA FERGUSON

It expects to handle a record of more than 15m this year thanks to new routes and extra flights, such as JetBlue launching the airport’s fourth summer daily service to New York last month and Emirates due to resume flights to its Dubai hub in November.

New routes being pursued include to India, and more to China.

An airport spokesperson said: “More airlines, routes and passengers in turn leads to more spend from passengers throughout the airport.”

The accounts stated: “The airport’s recovery from the pandemic has been more rapid than anticipated, with 2023 passenger numbers almost fully recovered on 2019 levels [98 per cent].

“The volume recovery has been particularly strong in the second half of the year, where passenger numbers exceeded 2019 levels [by 2 per cent].

“The recovery has been led by strong demand for leisure and international travel, particularly long-haul.”

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The airport said it was now “steadily increasing” its capital investment programme after scaling it back during the pandemic, which it said would “support future growth, provide a better passenger experience and ensure sufficient operational resilience”.

It said it spent nearly £31m in 2023 on improvements such as a solar farm, which became operational in February this year and will provide 25 per cent of the airport’s power.

The airport said spending had also included a series of “runway upgrades and rehabilitation works”.

The runway, which is nearing the end of its 15-year life, is due to be resurfaced at the end of next year. Flights have been disrupted on at least seven occasions since last August for emergency repairs.

However, airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said last week the Civil Aviation Authority regulator was “happy with the state of the runway and the maintenance regime”.

The airport’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 18 per cent from 145,772 to 172,511kg of carbon dioxide equivalent, although the amount per passenger fell by 7,5 per cent from 0.013 to 0.012 kgCO2e.

Punctuality improved by 2.4 percentage points from 60.9 to 63.3 per cent of flights departing within 15 minutes of schedule.

Passengers also queued for less time to go through security, with 90.4 per cent waiting no more than 10 minutes compared to 82 per cent in 2022.

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The airport also received a lower rate of complaints, down from 1.64 to 1.57 per 1,000 passengers.

Mr Dewar said the airport would submit a revised planning application for another access road after proposals were rejected by the city council. If approved, construction could start next year.

He said the sole Eastfield Road access was “really creaking at the seams”, with delays of up to 10 minutes.

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