Edinburgh airport has begun work to further extend its terminal in an effort to cut delays to passengers disembarking aircraft and waiting for their baggage.
The £50 million building expansion at Scotland’s busiest airport is also designed to help cope with the 3.5m expected rise in annual passenger numbers to 16.5m by 2020.
Chief executive Gordon Dewar admitted busy periods this summer had “impacted our service” and the improvements were needed to ensure passengers had a “positive experience”.
The development, at the east end of the terminal, is due to be completed by next summer.
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Six extra boarding gates will be created to increase the total to 32 by extending the south east pier and add new seating.
This will enable more planes to park beside the terminal so fewer passengers are held up by having to be transferred by buses, which has become an increasing gripe as the airport has got busier.
A three-storey section of the extension from the gate 12 area will include an expanded baggage reclaim hall for UK flights.
Immigration, customs and baggage reclaim for arriving international passengers will also be overhauled and there will be more space for shops, cafes and VIP lounges.
Mr Dewar said: “This is a major investment for the Capital and Scotland, and further establishes Edinburgh Airport as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking airports in the UK.
“We are the fastest growing airport in the UK – and that demand is only going to grow with record numbers of passengers we expect to see passing through the terminal.
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“There have been times this summer where we’ve experienced busy periods that have impacted on our service.
“This investment in new facilities will ensure we have the infrastructure needed to handle more passengers and provide them with a positive experience, whether arriving or departing.
“As Scotland’s gateway to the world, it’s vital we have first-class infrastructure. We will continue to invest in that, creating more jobs, supporting the economy and opening up Scotland to the world.” The plans met with a guarded welcome from the Scottish Passenger Agents Association, representing travel agents.
Secretary Janice Hogarth said: “It is essential the terminal building is able to cope with this increase in traffic to enable passengers to depart, arrive and pass through the terminal with speed, ease and efficiency.”