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Edinburgh Airport celebrates record month for passengers

A record number of passengers passed through Edinburgh Airport last month.

Edinburgh Airport: Celebrating record month for passengers. <strong>© STV</strong>
Edinburgh Airport: Celebrating record month for passengers. © STV

A record number of passengers passed through Edinburgh Airport last month despite a “marked slowdown” in annual growth.

It recorded the busiest month for a Scottish airport with 1,508,586 passengers passing through in July.

The figures are up 0.4% on the same month last year when the airport last set the record, breaking the 1.5 million barrier for the first time.

Growth was down from July 2018, however, when it was 6.3% up on the previous year.

The airport said the failure to cut aviation tax and adverse weather appeared to have an impact on growth in July.

The Scottish Government announced in May that it was abandoning plans to cut air departure tax after declaring a climate emergency.

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “It’s a bittersweet month for us – we’ve just recorded the busiest ever month for a Scottish airport for the second time but it comes as we see a marked slowdown in growth.

“The fall in domestic travel has clearly had an impact and although there is growth internationally we cannot ignore the loss of routes over the past year, such as Norwegian pulling their transatlantic services.”

He added: “We previously warned that failure to cut the highest aviation tax in the world would have an adverse effect on growth and this appears to be coming to fruition.

“Our industry hears the Government’s concerns around the climate but the positive steps taken towards making aviation more sustainable have not been considered.”

In May, the SNP scrapped its flagship manifesto policy to halve air duty before abolishing it altogether, with ministers saying “reducing air departure tax is no longer compatible with more ambitious climate targets”.

The domestic market in July was 4.7% down on the same month the previous year after Ryanair cut Stansted flights from four a day to four a week, while adverse weather conditions at some UK airports led to an increase in flight cancellations.

The international market was up 3% on the previous year due to a new routes being introduced and increased frequencies on long-haul routes.

Mr Dewar said: “Like all businesses, we are looking at how we make our operations more sustainable and how we can influence the wider industry to continue on that positive path.

“The airport campus employs around 7,000 people and as a business overall we support 23,000 jobs across Scotland – we have to find a way that delivers sustainable growth to ensure continued success for our economy.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “In light of the updated advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change and the new net-zero target proposed as a result, we have taken the difficult decision that reducing Air Departure Tax is no longer compatible with our climate responsibilities and acted accordingly.

“The Scottish Government welcomes the efforts of Scotland’s aviation industry to reduce carbon emissions and will continue work with them to support the sector in a sustainable way.”

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