Edinburgh Airport profits soar as passenger numbers return to pre-Covid levels

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Edinburgh Airport’s profits soared last years as passengers numbers returned to 98 per cent of their pre-Covid level.

Annual accounts show an operating profit of £144.7 million for 2023, up from £81.5 million the previous year - an increase of 77.5 per cent - while the number of passengers using the airport rose from 11.3 million in 2022 to 14.4 million in 2023, a 28 per cent increase.

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The airport’s annual report, published with the financial statement, says: “The airport’s recovery from the pandemic has been more rapid than anticipated with 2023 passenger numbers almost fully recovered on 2019 levels.

“The volume recovery was particularly strong in the second half of the year where passenger numbers exceeded 2019 levels. The recovery has been led by strong demand for leisure and international travel, particularly long-haul.”

The airport is host to 33 airlines and connects t more than 170 destinations. And it has added several new routes and destinations, including Jet2 to Rome and Malta; JetBlue to New York JFK; Ryanair to Bergerac, Agadir and Biarritz; WestJet to Toronto an Halifax; Eurowings to Stiuttgart; and British Airways City Flyer to San Sebastian and Olbia.

The report says the airport scaled back its capital investment programme during the pandemic, but is now steadily increasing it again. In 2023, it invested £30.9m in a range of projects, including installation of an on-site solar farm, which started operating in February 2024 and can meet 25 per cent of the airport’s energy needs.

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Other investments include in new security technology and runway upgrades and rehabilitation.

And the report says: “The airport’s focus for 2024 is sustainable growth. There are several pivotal projects already in progress and expected to commence, which will facilitate the airport’s ability to deliver this growth.”

Edinburgh Airport - now Scotland’s busiest airport - started life as the Royal Naval Air Service Aerodrome Turnhouse in 1916 and served as a key military base during the First World War. And after also playing an important role in the Second World War, it launched its first commercial services in 1947.

Responsibility for the airport was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Aviation in 1960. And in 1966 to was transferred again to the British Airports Authority, which operated the airport until it was privatised in 1987, becoming BAA Edinburgh. It was sold to Global Infrastructure Partners in 2012.

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But in April 2024, French infrastructure group Vinci - which is already the majority shareholder in London’s Gatwick Airport - bought a 50.01 per cent stake in Edinburgh in a £1.27 billion deal. At the time, Sir John Elvidge, chairman of Edinburgh Airport, welcomed the move as “a significant vote of confidence in Scotland, and the future of its capital city airport.”

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