Edinburgh’s main transport hub has been given the international seal of approval, with the facility named Europe’s best airport for the third year running.
The city was awarded the major plaudit in the five-10 million passenger class at Monday’s prestigious Airports Council International Europe awards in Istanbul.
The airport’s focus on its customer base and efforts to secure new routes were both singled out for praise.
Edinburgh beat seven other nominated European airports. Lyon in France and Esenboga International Airport in Turkey are previous winners in the category.
On the back of the success airport chiefs have revealed they are on the brink of handling one million passengers a month following a strong return to growth.
The airport has already achieved its busiest ever May, with international and domestic traffic rising by 11.8 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively.
It is the first time in 12 months that travel through the airport from within and outside of Britain has climbed in a single month.
The result marks a significant shift in fortunes for airport owners Global Infrastructure Partners [GIP] since buying the transport hub in June last year.
Management were forced to deal with several difficult issues – including negotiating a new deal with budget airline Ryanair – and overcoming the loss of landing slots previously used by fellow carrier BMI.
Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “The last 12 months have been challenging following our change in ownership, but we have embraced change and not only have we welcomed a number of exciting new domestic and international routes, we’ve rolled out a completely new brand identity.”
A total of 906,679 passengers travelled through the airport last month – an overall increase of 7.4 per cent on the same period last year.
The rise has coincided with the start of new easyJet and Ryanair flights and the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red service operating between Edinburgh and London Heathrow six times a day.
Airport spokesman Gordon Robertson said officials at the award-winning airport were confident of carrying the recent growth into the traditionally tougher winter later this year.
He said topping one million passengers next month was a real possibility, adding: “The forecasts are looking good. We’re not complacent, we’re working hard, but hopefully we can make up for a bit of the poor start to the year and hopefully we can have our best year ever.”
The airport fell just 7000 passengers short of reaching the one-million mark for a month during 2011.
Edinburgh Western MSP Colin Keir said: “I spoke to officials from the airport just the other day and they’re incredibly optimistic about breaking that one-million barrier over the next month or so. It’s great news for the economy of Edinburgh and Scotland given the amount of business and tourism that’s heading our way.”
The gains come with airport owners having installed hi-tech cameras and automatic bag drops in recent months in efforts to slash queues and cut down on waiting times. GIP has also been in discussions with both Etihad and Qatar airways over the possibility of starting new flights from the Middle East into Edinburgh.