BUSINESS tourism, more full planes and new routes have helped Edinburgh Airport to a record month in September.
A raft of events at the Edinburgh international Conference Centre including the Social Enterprise World Forum that attracted thousands to the city were cited as one of the reasons behind the uplift.
The airport said main factors included the stronger domestic market, up on last year by two per cent with Flybe and Loganair, who last year ended a partnership that left them in direct competition on some routes, flying fuller planes.
The key international market recorded a 7.8% year on year growth, mostly down to 21 new routes launched since last September.As well as the Social Enterprise World Forum on September 12-14, the EICC also hosted Cochrane Colloquium, the World Youth and Student Travel Conference, the Eunethydis International Conference on ADHD and European Association for Haematopathology.
A total of 1.4m people passed through Edinburgh Airport last month making it the busiest September.
That number is 5.8% up on the same month last year and follows a record August when almost 1.47m passengers passed through the terminal, an increase of 4.9% on last year and the second busiest month recorded at the airport.
The busiest month on record was July 2018 when the 1.5m passenger barrier was broken for the first time by a Scottish airport.
An Edinburgh airport spokesman said: “We obviously hope growth will continue and we’re always looking to secure new routes and destinations to offer that choice to passengers.
“The strong festival season helps as well as we’ll have people who stay for a little bit longer into September while there’s an element of business tourism as well due to the number of conferences the city has hosted recently.
“People within that sector will be flying in from all over the world to attend and that helps our numbers.”
New destination additions included Ryanair operating 12 routes this September including to France, Germany and Poland that weren’t operated this time last year.
Jet2 are flying more bigger and fuller aircraft on more destinations, and since last September introduced four new destinations, while easyJet and Air France are also using larger aircraft.
Airlines serving transatlantic routes are also bringing more people than last year “showing a strong demand for this market” and there is also a new service to Beijing with Hainan Airlines.
While Flybe was said to have had more passengers, the airline accused Edinburgh of being too focused on large planes operating long-haul routes in an article in the Scotland on Sunday.
Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmières-Widener claiming “there have been more delays in Edinburgh than we were expecting”, while and Edinburgh Airport spokesman was reported as saying it has “a strong relationship with all of our carriers and display parity and equity to all of them”.
Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said that the September result meant “another impressive month for all of us”.
But he said: “While this growth is helpful, we can’t escape the fact that Scotland is well below European average growth.
“We’re also seeing airlines announcing reductions and cuts to services due to us having the highest aviation tax in the world, something which is holding back the industry’s true potential.
“With the further challenge of an uncertain Brexit looming, the promised APD reduction needs to be delivered to avoid a stall in aviation and tourism growth.”
Published heraldscotland.com/business_hq, 16 October 2018