A COVERED walkway will be provided for passengers moving between the Edinburgh Airport terminal and the tram stop next year to avoid the transport hub feeling like a construction site.
Hoardings will go up for the first time around the airport today as building works officially start to complete the £25 million expansion of the main terminal.
A brand new security hall, more shops and 15 per cent extra terminal space will be created under the major overhaul.
However, the revamp means the outer shell of the airport extension will not be finished until the end of next year, leaving those using the city’s new tram service needing to walk further around construction works before entering the terminal.
The coach parking area has also been moved close to the tram stop, creating a “public transport interchange” that allows passengers to switch easily between bus services such as Citylink express coaches,the trams and car hire facilities.
Airport head of project delivery Ian Lang said a covered walkway would be set up to shelter passengers as they moved between the trams and the terminal.
Digging will start this week in the old bus zone next to the airport terminal. Mr Lang said equipment including scanners and facial recognition technology would be moved from the existing security zone to the new one midway through next year.
The changeover will coincide with the summer months – a period where the airport clocked up a million passenger a month this year – and two massive sporting events in the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games.
Airport chiefs conceded they had only just managed to cope with record passenger numbers this year when construction works were not in progress.
Mr Lang, who oversaw the £31 million fit-out of Glasgow International Airport five years ago, said switching between security areas during the tourist season would be one of the most “challenging” phases of the project.
But he promised there would be no major delays for passengers catching flights, saying: “Passengers can expect to turn up and go through the process as they normally would. There’s not going to be any major impacts to the journey through Edinburgh. There might be a bit of noise, but in terms of disruption it’s driven towards making sure people arrive and depart on time.”
A taskforce that includes Mr Lang has been formed to make plans so that airport works do not threaten what has been billed as a bumper year for Scottish tourism.
Passengers will have to walk though an anchor store after clearing security to reach the departure lounge once the overall upgrade is finished in 2015.
Mr Lang said more seating, information terminals and shops would be available to passengers who were waiting on their boarding gates to improve the experience.
“When you arrive at an airport what you want is information,” Mr Lang said. “A big part of this is to make sure we’ve got information in the right places.”