THE number of people passing through Edinburgh Airport increased last month, with a “massive” jump in the number of international passengers.
Latest figures showed 700,142 people used the airport in January, up 11.4 per cent on the same month last year.
The 342,540 international passengers recorded was a 21.7 per cent annual increase – the greatest monthly rise since January 2008.
Gordon Dewar, the airport’s chief executive, said: “January’s passenger numbers are very welcome indeed and the massive increase in the number of international passengers highlights the growing draw of Edinburgh as a prime global destination.
“We are continuing to offer greater choice with more routes and more destinations – and passengers are responding by flying in and out of Edinburgh directly in greater numbers than ever before.
“People ask me how much more Edinburgh Airport can grow in a country with little over five million people; it is not the five million I am worried about but how the other seven billion across the globe get to visit us.”
Glasgow Airport, meanwhile, welcomed 551,177 passengers last month, up 13.5 per cent on the previous year.
The hub’s busiest January on record saw a 17.6 per cent increase in international traffic, due in part to the December launch of new services to Milan and Bucharest.
Managing director Amanda McMillan said: “We anticipate 2016 will be our busiest year on record, welcoming nine million passengers through our doors for the first time.
“As well as celebrating 50 years of serving Scotland, our focus is to ensure we continue to build on the success of last year where we secured 30 new routes and saw passenger numbers grow at unprecedented levels.”
The figures were announced just days after the airport hailed its controversial trial of a new flight path as a “success” – despite receiving thousands of complaints from residents living beneath the route. A report published this week detailed the findings from last year’s exercise, which saw some flights directed over Broxburn, Uphall, Dechmont and Blackness.
The majority of complaints received during the trial came from a relatively small number of people who live in pockets of communities in West Lothian.
The trial, which ended two months early following a barrage of complaints, was launched as the airport sought to find a way to get planes off the ground every minute at peak times, rather than every two minutes.
Airport bosses said one-minute separation times of departing flights could relieve aircraft congestion and make the runway more efficient.
But they admitted they experienced a peak in complaints during the trial period, with 7934 objections from 567 people. They said analysis showed that over 57 per cent of these complaints were not about trial flights but about aircraft operating on flight paths that have existed since the mid-1970s.