Edinburgh Airport has today published new long-term development plans, in light of the rising costs of relocating the Royal Highland Showground.
The new plans require 25.5 hectares of additional land outside the airport's current boundary but will not force the Royal Highland Showground to relocate before 2020.
The UK Government's 2003 'Future of Air Transport' White Paper directed that the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) should relocate to facilitate the long-term growth of Edinburgh Airport. BAA subsequently published its Edinburgh Airport Master Plan in 2006, which laid out more detailed plans to develop the airport up to the year 2030. This would have required the RHASS to relocate from 2013.
However, following the £350 million cost now associated with relocating the RHASS and the considerable financial burden such a cost would place on airlines operating from Edinburgh Airport from increased landing charges, BAA Scotland has been forced to adopt alternative development plans. These new proposals would require 25.5 hectares of additional land within the 2013-2020 time period, but would not require the Royal Highland Showground to relocate.
Gordon Dewar, Managing Director of Edinburgh Airport said,
"We remain committed to the long-term sustainable development of Edinburgh Airport and are continuing our ambitious £265 million capital investment plan to both expand and improve facilities for our passengers.
"However, we have been forced to change our longer term development plans to avoid the substantial and rising costs of relocating the showground after 2013. Our new plans provide a more cost-effective future for the development of the airport and remain in line with UK air transport policy.
"We continue to believe that long-term demand at Edinburgh Airport will be strong, but at £350 million and rising, the latest cost of relocating the showground would place a considerable burden on the airlines serving Edinburgh today.
"The significant increase this would cause to the cost of flying to and from Edinburgh simply cannot be justified. There is also no guarantee that the costs would remain at £350 million, as we have seen several sharp increases in the last two years.
"If we are to attract more airlines and flights to Edinburgh, then we have to maintain a competitive airport, and justify every penny we charge our customers as we build an airport which serves Scotland's capital for generations.
"As things stand, funding the relocation of the RHASS would mean substantially higher costs for airlines and would inevitably lead to higher fares for Scots travellers. We cannot compromise Edinburgh's future by signing up to such an expensive proposal."
The plans involve development on to two areas of land currently owned by the RHASS
Immediate investment plans
BAA Scotland has a £500 million capital investment plan across its three Scottish airports including £265 million at Edinburgh Airport. A number of major projects have started or will start during the course of 2008 including:
A major £40 million project to double the size of the terminal departure lounge, one of the biggest single investments in Edinburgh Airport's 30 year history
A complete resurfacing of the main airport runway, renewing the runway for another 15 years at a cost of £16 million
A new £9.5 million consolidated car rental centre, the first of its kind in the UK, which will provide a new external building for car rental operations and release significant space within the terminal building.