Edinburgh Airport passenger numbers plummet to lowest in 25 years

In 2020, numbers fell to just 3.5 million – a 76% reduction on the previous year.

Edinburgh Airport passenger numbers plummet to lowest in 25 years SNS Group

Edinburgh Airport has seen the lowest number of passengers since 1995 in the last 12 months.

In 2019, the airport celebrated a record number of passengers with almost 15 million people using the airport.

But this plummeted to just 3.5 million in 2020 – a 76% reduction on the previous year.

The vast majority of those travelled before the pandemic hit and numbers plummeted by 99% between April and June, by 83% from July to September and by 90% between October and December.

The drop in passenger numbers is estimated to have cost the Scottish economy around £1bn, as well as 21,000 jobs.

Edinburgh Airport chief executive Gordon Dewar is now calling on the Scottish Government to step in with an economic recovery plan for the aviation industry.

He said: “Our thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones through this pandemic and with those on the frontline managing the health crisis.

“The fall in our passenger numbers is only one reflection of the long-term damage being inflicted by Covid-19 on Scotland’s economy and its social fabric, but it is a worrying one and there is no clear path to recovery.

“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.

“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.

“The power and impact of the aviation industry cannot simply be measured on passenger numbers and the number of aircraft arriving and departing – thousands of people rely on airports and airlines, and their vast supply chains, for the income that puts food on the table and pays the bills.

“Other countries around the world are providing support for their aviation sectors and the UK and Scottish governments should do the same.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Globally, as well as here in Scotland, the aviation industry faces one of the longest recovery periods from the pandemic.

“We have extended the 100% non-domestic rates relief for the sector by at least three months into 2021-22 and we’re also working with airports on route recovery, to help rebuild connectivity for business and tourism once we are able to safely lift travel restrictions.

“This will help win back routes and employment opportunities.

“The vaccination programme is a significant milestone in our fight against the virus and we are focused on protecting and creating jobs across the economy.

“On top of £3bn in immediate support for business, we have committed more than £1.2bn to economic recovery with further investment set out in our draft Budget.”

A UK Government spokeswoman added: “Transport is a devolved matter, but we would encourage the Scottish Government to put in place similar support for airports in Scotland as we have in England.

“Through our new Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme launched last week, commercial airports in England can apply for up to £8m each.

“The UK Government provided £8.6bn extra funding to the Scottish Government for their own Covid-19 response and to provide support where it is needed.

“This is on top of direct support provided by the UK Government to safeguard lives and livelihoods across the UK, including through our furlough scheme, which has been extended again until end of April.

“At its peak it and our self-employed scheme supported more than 930,000 jobs in Scotland.

“In Scotland, around two thirds of all daily tests are provided by the UK Government, in support of Scotland’s health services.

“And hope is on the horizon with the roll out of vaccines, which the UK Government is paying for and supplying for the whole of the UK.”

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