Edinburgh Airport will mark a crucial milestone today with a visit from Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy MP to the site of its new multi-million pound terminal extension.
The £40 million project aims to transform Edinburgh Airport - Scotland's busiest - into one of the most modern gateways in Europe.
The 5,000 square metre development will include a major expansion of the airport's departure lounge, offering more space for passengers to relax, and a wider choice of shops, bars and restaurants.
The project will also include a new purpose built security search area, with capacity for 14 x-ray machines.
The first phase of the new look departure lounge is set to open to passengers in November, with the project due to be fully complete by early 2011.
Around 200 jobs in the retail and construction sectors will be supported or created as a result of the development.
Today, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy MP will join representatives from BAA Edinburgh and the main contractors, Balfour Beatty Group, to mark a milestone phase of the construction project with a topping out ceremony - a traditional celebration which marks the completion of the physical structure of the project.
In keeping with tradition, a small branch will be tied to the highest point of the building, and Mr Murphy will use a trowel to smooth the last section of concrete. A toast to the workers will follow, and quaichs will be presented to members of the team involved in the project.
The £40 million project is the first phase of a planned £100 million investment at Edinburgh Airport over the next five years, and will be entirely funded by BAA.
Gordon Dewar, Managing Director of Edinburgh Airport, said: "This is a complex and challenging project, but we are delighted with the progress we are making. Passengers will be able to enjoy the new look Edinburgh Airport within a matter of months. The transformation will be considerable, and will allow Edinburgh Airport to compete more effectively with other major European regional airports.
“Edinburgh Airport is a vital economic generator, not just for the capital, but for the whole of Scotland. With connections to more than 100 destinations worldwide, and a growing number of international visitors to our airport, it is essential that we continue to invest in our airport and create a modern terminal that meets the aspirations of one of Europe’s great capital cities."
Tim Clarke, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Construction (Scottish Division), said: “Balfour Beatty is proud of the successful relationship with BAA, and BAA Scotland in particular. The recent success at Glasgow Airport was in no small part due to the way Gordon Dewar and his team worked with us. The fact that these same key people from BAA and Balfour Beatty are here together at Edinburgh provides the confidence for another successful project.
"It is so much easier to be successful as a project when the whole team from designer to supply chain are further motivated by seeing BAA and Balfour Beatty sharing a common goal of customer satisfaction."
Jim Murphy said: "I am delighted to be here to mark such a momentous occasion in the history of Edinburgh airport. This significant development will not only create valuable new jobs but will increase the airport's competiveness on both a European and an international scale. Our capital city is an increasingly attractive destination for business visitors and tourists alike, but it also serves as a key gateway to the rest of Scotland. This expansion will therefore deliver a vital economic boost to the whole country."
Roy Durie, a Director of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, added: "In this increasingly competitive air travel market, the £40 million investment by BAA in giving passengers attractive 21st century facilities could not have come at a better time. Both visitors and residents of the Edinburgh area will greatly benefit."
Opened in 1977, Edinburgh Airport today handles more than 8.8 million passengers, flying to more than 100 destinations worldwide. In the past decade, passenger numbers have doubled, reflecting the capital's increasing popularity as a business and leisure destination.
The Edinburgh departure lounge extension is just one of a series of recent high profile investments by BAA in Scotland. Earlier this week, Scottish Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP opened a new international walkway at Aberdeen Airport, part of a £5 million investment in airside facilities, and last December, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond MSP opened a new £31 million terminal extension at Glasgow Airport.