To use a terrible flying pun, Edinburgh Airport is on the up.
A little over twenty years ago, you could barely get outside Europe from the Scottish capital without visiting London. Today you don’t need to go via London, wherever you are in Britain. You may, however, need to go through the Middle East, should that not be far enough. If you live in Scotland or the north, there’s no need to go near London on your holidays this year.
10 million annual passengers
Since the airport’s purchase by NYC-based Global Infrastructure Partners three years ago, passenger numbers have increased by almost one million, to over 10 million. New links to the US and Canada can partly take credit for this – as can new links to the Middle East, the latest of which began last week.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad are now operating a daily flight to Edinburgh, following in the footsteps of Qatar Airways, whose flights began last year. Major competitor Emirates flies to both Glasgow and Newcastle instead. These airlines also fly to Manchester as well as London – the resurgence in regional airports helping to drive traffic to these flights.
— Edinburgh Airport (@EDI_Airport) June 12, 2015
With Qatar flying the stunning Boeing 787 Dreamliner, it could be argued that they have the edge over Etihad and their older Airbus A330 aircraft. But in a press conference at Edinburgh’s lavish Balmoral Hotel, Etihad Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner said, “It’s a matter of when – and not if – the absolute latest [planes] are coming here.”
[Image: Boeing 787/Wikimedia Commons]
Regardless of aircraft type, it’s a major investment for the airline, beginning their offering with 2,000 seats and suggestions that a second daily flight could follow. “Can we start building for the [Airbus] A380, now?” joked Edinburgh Airport MD Gordon Dewar in response to this, “it’s great for us,” he later told Kettle. But it’s not all been plain sailing for EDI, with Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red service to Heathrow ending this September – is he planning on replacing it? “Absolutely…ideally Virgin, we’d like to see them come here and go transatlantic.”
Any other targets? “Well, we’ve still got quite a few gaps on the east coast [of the US] – like Washington. Also, China…that’s a huge market.” He’s not wrong, just a few minutes earlier he told the assembled press that the number of Chinese visitors to Scotland has been doubling annually for the last few years. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the zoo’s pandas.
Of course, this is also good news for travellers from across the UK. More destinations from more airports = more competition, and lower fares for all. Not forgetting the convenience of being able to fly direct in the first place.
Even if your local airport doesn’t offer direct flights to wherever you’re headed this summer, you can still take solace in the fact that you’ll likely have the choice to avoid the chaos of Heathrow in summer.