Edinburgh Airport sees lowest passenger numbers since 1995

Research shows that the pandemic cost the Scottish economy around £1bn

Within the last 12 months, Edinburgh Airport recorded its lowest number of passengers since 1995.

Throughout 2020, the airport handled under 3.5m passengers, a 76% reduction compared with the previous year.

This was estimated to have cost the Scottish economy around £1bn and more than 21,000 jobs were lost, according to research conducted by consultancy firm BIGGAR Economics.

Edinburgh Airport
Photo Edinburgh Airport 

After a ten-year period of significant growth, passenger numbers heavily declined in every quarter as restrictions became tighter in Scotland and more restrictions were introduced regarding border controls.

The majority of people travelled before the pandemic hit, then numbers slumped by 99% between April and June, then by 83% between July and September. Figures between October and December also dropped by 90%.

Gordan Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, believes that “now is the right time for industry, government and trade unions to be thinking about a substantial economic recovery plan.

“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 UK and Scottish Governments should do the same.”

At the beginning last year, the airport worked alongside BIGGAR Economics to help gain an insight into how it impacts Scotland’s economy. It was found that in 2019, Edinburgh Airport generated around £1.4bn gross value added and a further 28,000 jobs in the Scottish economy.

The pandemic was also found to have impacted other areas, such as allowing the freedom of movement, more opportunities to experience other cultures, the promotion of Scotland’s heritage, staying in contact with friends and family and enhancing accessibility for visitors.