Edinburgh Airport security chief leaves after complaints

David Wilson, right, pictured with boss Gordon Dewar, oversaw months of chaos at the airport due to the new security hall. Pic: Neil Hanna
David Wilson, right, pictured with boss Gordon Dewar, oversaw months of chaos at the airport due to the new security hall. Pic: Neil Hanna
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THE man in charge of 
Edinburgh Airport’s troubled new £25 million security hall has left his role.

Chief operating officer David Wilson oversaw months of chaos in the much-heralded extension and was forced to apologise for a host of snags earlier this summer.

Staff were left surprised after being told yesterday that Mr Wilson had left the airport “under mutual agreement”.

Mr Wilson is believed to have turned up for work as normal yesterday morning before leaving the terminal a few hours later.

The Evening News understands he was under severe pressure amid growing complaints over the length of queues in the security hall and the lack of trained staff.

An airport spokesman said: “I can confirm that David Wilson has left Edinburgh Airport and that we wish him well.”

Mr Wilson, who sparked controversy last year when he was pictured wearing a Hibs casuals T-shirt while on holiday in Benidorm, was accountable for financial and operational 
performance, customer service, the fire service and risk 
management.

He was seen as airport chief executive Gordon Dewar’s right-hand man and the pair, who took up their posts at the airport when it was bought by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in 2012, prided themselves on being Edinburgh-born officials serving local people.

He wrote an article in the Evening News in June, in which he apologised in response to a piece by our columnist Fiona Duff hitting out at problems in the security hall. He said: “Our passengers deserve better. So on behalf of all at the airport, we’re sorry.

“It’s fair to say that the move to our new hall, with its new security process, has proven challenging. Why did we change? It’s because we’re growing. We need more capacity in security to deal with growth this year and into the future.”

He told how passenger numbers had hiked by ten per cent on last year – five per cent more than predicted.

“We’re feeling the pain acutely and it’s clear that this is the biggest issue we face at the moment,” he added.

“All hands – from security officers to senior management – are on the pump. We feel it because our security for years was the envy of other UK airports. The whole airport, including our airline partners, are focused on fixing this issue and their support has been phenomenal.”

Mr Wilson’s airport career began in 1993, when he worked as a fire officer on the runway at Edinburgh for 12 years, before becoming a senior officer at Glasgow Airport. Before he set foot on the tarmac, he served with the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, for seven years.

He also starred in the fly-on-the-wall BBC documentary Inside Edinburgh Airport. Ahead of the first screening, Mr Wilson, a former pupil at 
Firrhill High, described how he and his staff “wanted to be the best airport in the world”.

An airport source said Mr Wilson, a married father-of-three, had been an “integral” part of the operation and had succeeded in helping the terminal cope with ever-increasing passenger numbers.

Mr Wilson will be replaced by Adrian Witherow, who is currently the operating principal at Gatwick Airport, which is also owned by GIP.

It is understood that Mr Witherow will have the same remit as Mr Wilson, with an increased focus on boosting passenger growth as the airport continues its expansion.

Mr Witherow has worked at Gatwick for two-and-a-half years, with previous management experience in other industries including the waste sector.

The airport spokesman said: “David Wilson’s successor, Adrian Witherow, joins the team on September 28.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com