Edinburgh Airport — increasingly the place where Scotland meets the world
By Matt Falcus

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Edinburgh has reportedly weathered the poor economic climate quite well, and its airport could be described as thriving, on the back of new routes and record passenger figures. It is now looking to capitalize on this position by committing to expansion for the future.

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An announcement on Aug. 21 outlines a terminal expansion costing 25 million British pounds ($39 million) at the heart of a bigger 150 million-pound ($233 million) investment in the airport. The expansion focusses on providing more space for security and retail, hinting that passenger figures are expected to continue to rise and that current infrastructure is struggling with the load.

"Our expansion is a significant mark of our intent to transform our customers' experience of Edinburgh Airport through high-quality facilities, outstanding customer service and one of the best direct international route networks in Europe," said Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport's chief executive. "This investment is the first of a number of developments that will build Edinburgh Airport's profile around the world, helping us to compete more energetically with other U.K. airports and those in mainland Europe."
Control tower at Edinburgh Airport.

The announcement comes on the back of a report by the airport that July's passenger figures hit the 1 million-in-a-month mark for the first time ever — a rise of 13.1 percent over the previous year, with a final total of 1,082,938 passengers.

The extension will see the terminal move into the space currently occupied by the airport's coach park, moving the terminal access closer to the new tram stop. The flagship tram system has been developed over recent years to provide a seamless and more efficient public transport system in the city, and it will connect to the airport.

By moving the security area into this extension, valuable space within the terminal will be freed for more passenger and retail spaces including the airport's first walk-through store. Work will begin in October, with the new security product operational by late 2014. The new retail space will follow in 2015.

Perhaps there are undertones in the reasoning behind Edinburgh's frenzied investment and expansion. As Scotland's capital, it is facing the potential of even greater importance should the planned 2014 independence referendum result in Scotland removing itself from the United Kingdom. The jury is out over whether this is likely, but with the country's second-busiest airport at Glasgow showing its own consistent growth (and only 45 miles away), there's no time for Edinburgh to rest on its laurels.

"We're keenly aware of our responsibility to be the place where Scotland meets the world," Dewar said. "This is an investment not just for in the future of the airport, but for Edinburgh and Scotland; and we are delighted to play our part in offering a warm welcome and, importantly, great memories of our capital city.

Edinburgh Airport was sold to Global Infrastructure Partners in April 2012 for 807 million. It has recently seen flights commence to Toronto with Air Canada's new Rouge subsidiary, alongside Virgin Atlantic's new service to London Heathrow. It also enjoys a thriving low-cost network thanks to easyJet and Ryanair among others.

Matt Falcus is a British aviation writer and author, and editor of the Airport Spotting Blog, which delivers daily news on airline and airport operations around the world.