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Empty Edinburgh Airport Exacerbated by Fall in Passenger Traffic

by Ranjit Shergill

The epicentre of Scotland’s Air Traffic witnessed its biggest drop in passenger traffic in a quarter of a century. Indeed, Edinburgh Airport has seen a flip-flop in records in the past two years. The year of 2019 yielded record passenger traffic numbers of close to 15 million, whilst 2020 witnessed under 3.5 million passengers, the lowest levels recorded since 1995.

Empty Edinburgh Airport Departure Queues

Dwindling Departure Queues | © Daily Record

Unsurprisingly, 2020’s sharp drop in footfall can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. By way of example, the second quarter of 2020 (April to June) represented a 99% drop in passenger traffic compared to the same period in 2019. As such, this is estimated to have cost up to £1 billion to the local economy and job losses in excess of 21,000.

Closure Equates to Stagnant Recovery

The path to reopening Scotland’s Airports and indeed key industries of trade and tourism industry remains speculative. The Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, Gordon Dewar said:

“Nobody should assume that when the pandemic subsides, life will go back to normal. At the airport, we will be starting from a low level of activity not recorded here since 1995 and the choice of airlines and destinations may be dramatically different to those we had worked hard to build before 2020 and on which many people depend for bringing visitors to Scotland and for holidays and business, including exports.”

Furthermore, he calls for the government to provide a more comprehensive economic package to assist the Aviation Industry in creating a more seamless transition to post-pandemic operations.

“We believe that now is the right time for industry, Government and trade unions to be thinking about a substantial economic recovery plan – one that does not distract the health professionals from the important job of saving lives and protecting the NHS today, but one which puts Scotland in the best possible position to recover as quickly as possible when the conditions allow.”

Covid-19 Testing Capabilities

On a more positive note, Edinburgh Airport has enhanced its Covid-19 Compliance Program, with the introduction of an ‘Express Rapid Test’ that can turnaround results within just 20 minutes. Those testing negative will immediately receive a Fit to Fly Certificate.

Indeed, the hope must be that such certificates can become commonplace and handed out in the millions, which will be a sign that Edinburgh Airport is closing the gap on pre-pandemic levels of passenger traffic.

What are your thoughts on the industry’s recovery from Covid-19? Let us know below! 

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