Edinburgh Airport £25m expansion brings 100 jobs

Edinburgh Airport is already one of Scotland's busiest. Picture: Dan Phillips
Edinburgh Airport is already one of Scotland's busiest. Picture: Dan Phillips
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AN end of passenger queues for security checks will become a reality under a £25 million terminal expansion, airport bosses pledged today.

• Terminal moved closer to tram stop with more shops and bigger security area.

• Work to start in October as part of £150m investment plan over five years.

Revamping the security area is at the heart of the improvements designed to cater for soaring passenger numbers and woo new airlines to invest in the route.

The terminal expansion will also include more shops and a passenger bridge from the multi-storey car park directly into the terminal.

Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar, who has previously spoken of his desire to eliminate security queues, said the huge investment would cut delays for passengers and enable the airport to handle greater numbers of people.

He said: “We hope to transform the experience of going through security. I see first of all no queues. We expect people to be getting through without worrying how long it will take.”

The planned expansion increases space in the existing terminal by up to 15 per cent and will create 100 new jobs. A new access point will mean passengers won’t have to walk more than a hundred metres from the airport’s tram stop to enter the terminal.

The new 6000 square metre terminal will give travellers more space during peak periods and help them move through the airport faster. The old security area will make way for new shops, with the airport’s first walk-through store, and a business centre for airlines.

The new security area will open late next year. The new shops, which will include fashion and jewellery stores, will be launched in 2015. The terminal improvements are part of airport owners Global Infrastructure Partners’ [GIP] overall plans to invest £150m in the transport hub over the next five years.

Mr Dewar said work will start in October. He said: “The facility itself is going to be double height, with lots of natural light during the daytime, no columns, so it won’t feel enclosed. It will feel extremely professional.

“While I think we’ve been delivering a really good product with the constraints we have at the moment, there’s no doubt that the current security hall is lacking in space.”

Mr Dewar promised the security equipment itself – being developed with the help of partner airport Gatwick – would be the “best in the world”.

He said the rest of the £150m investment would be spent on areas such as building more car parking and adding at least five new parking stands for aircraft.

“We need to make sure we can always say ‘yes’ to airlines when they want to come,” he said. “We’re going to invest across every part of the

airport.”

Passengers who would normally double back to the left after using the escalator to reach security on the terminal’s first floor will now instead walk straight ahead into a larger hall once the extension is built.

Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir said the latest investment would confirm Edinburgh’s status as the best airport in Britain.

He said: “I think we are the best airport to travel through at the minute.”

The investment has been announced in the wake of Scotland’s busiest airport getting more than a million passengers in a month for the first time, with the record set for July.

GIP bought the airport from BAA in April last year and is gradually engineering a turnaround in the facility’s

prospects.

A total of only 9.2 million passengers travelled through the airport in 2012 – 190,000 fewer than the previous year.

However, the hub’s recovery is now gaining pace, with passenger numbers having increased in the past four successive months during a record-breaking run.

City economy convenor Councillor Frank Ross said: “While the city has weathered the recession very well, we need more capacity to continue attracting the tourists, students, investors and business visitors, who help to create jobs for Edinburgh residents.”

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay described the timing as “impeccable”, with Scotland hosting three major events next year – the Ryder Cup, the Commonwealth Games and Homecoming Scotland.

He said: “The developments will help ensure the first impression of Scotland is a good one and we are excited to see Edinburgh Airport investing in its future in such an innovative way.”

Airport officials are banking on the multi-million investment winning over airlines. Discussions are currently taking place with Etihad and Qatar airways over potential direct flights to the Middle East.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce chief executive David Birrell said: “The city is already benefitting from the knock-on effect of a successful airport.”

Tram will be waiting for passengers at all times

THE airport’s expansion is designed to better connect the airport with the tram terminus, which forms the start of the eight-mile long route stretching to York Place.

Those running the £776m line intend to have a tram waiting at the airport stop at all times to accept passengers. Tram layover times will be up to 18 minutes.

Ruth McKay, Edinburgh chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that transport chiefs should be applauded for their efforts to create a well-connected city. She said: “Given some of the previously negative stories that we’ve had going out worldwide with our trams situation, I think this is a great story that promotes the fact that we’re moving on and we’re a growing city.”