Edinburgh Airport hits new heights

United Airways starts ferrying passengers to Philadelphia this weekend. Picture: Getty Images
United Airways starts ferrying passengers to Philadelphia this weekend. Picture: Getty Images
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EDINBURGH Airport’s stratospheric growth has continued with the announcement of a range of new routes and ­airlines.

The airport has soared above its rivals in recent years, and more than ten million ­passengers are expected to pass through its doors in the ­coming year.

With one eye on this milestone three brand new long -haul routes and two new airlines have been announced this week, opening the Capital up to far flung destinations such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Doha, Ibiza and Zurich.

The North American routes offer Scottish passengers access to more than 1000 ­destinations across the US, while Doha offers connections to Australian hubs in Perth and Melbourne.

Qatar Airways will begin their five-day-a-week service from May 28, opening up the entire Middle East region.

Meanwhile, US Airways will begin ferrying passengers to Philadelphia this weekend while the inaugural United Airlines flight from Edinburgh to Chicago took place yesterday morning at 8am.

Edelweiss, Switzerland’s leading leisure airline, has unveiled a new non-stop twice-weekly service to Zurich and sun seekers can benefit from the new British Airways direct flight to the party island of Ibiza.

Starting today, the new flights will operate from Edinburgh on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays,

Bosses have set their sights on another bumper year as they head towards the ten million passenger milestone – almost 9.8 million people used the airport last year, an increase of 6.3 per cent on the previous year – the busiest of any Scottish airport.

It is believed that with the announcement of these new routes 2014 could be even better when combined with the Year of Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.

Cllr Frank Ross, Convener of the Economy Committee, said: “Edinburgh’s existing links with investors in these countries will be further strengthened by the arrival of these new direct flights. The visitor economy which currently is worth over a billion pounds annually to the city will also receive a significant boost from the increased number of new destinations.”

Billing it as a “historic week” for the airport, chief executive Gordon Dewar, said: “We set out to be the place where Scotland meets the world and these new routes go towards that. They open up many more destinations for Scots and will allow many more visitors to come to our country this summer, be it for the Edinburgh Festival, the Ryder Cup or the Commonwealth Games.”

He added: “We must thank the hard work of all parties involved in helping bring these new services to Scotland. It truly has been a Team Scotland effort and a journey we’ve been very proud to been part 
of.”

Speaking at the launch of the Edinburgh to Chicago service, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This service will provide real benefits to Scotland’s economy, encouraging more tourism, trade and investment by reducing the need for travellers to make connecting flights via London or the continent.”

She added: “I look forward to welcoming visitors from the US for Scotland’s exciting programme of events in 2014 which includes the Commonwealth Games, a second Year of Homecoming and of course the Ryder Cup.”

This was echoed by VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay, who said: “2014 is a massive year for Scotland and the eyes of the world are on our country like never before. Maintaining and indeed strengthening our position through new links from our largest overseas market is imperative.