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Airport development key to Scotland's economic growth

01 September 2009

Development plans at Edinburgh Airport have the potential to boost Scotland’s economy by £867 million per year according to findings from a study revealed today, 31 August 2009.

The findings come from a study undertaken by York Aviation which has been commissioned by Scottish Enterprise and BAA to assess the economic impact associated with Edinburgh Airport and its current and future role in supporting Edinburgh’s aspirations as a world city.

Currently ranked as average in the ‘world city’ stakes, it is widely acknowledged that the capital’s connectivity must be enhanced if it is to truly compete on the global city stage.

Edinburgh Airport’s Master Plan, which was published in 2006, sets out a framework for the Airport’s development through to 2030.  Government forecasts suggest that passenger throughput will continue to grow at EDI to between 18.8m and 26m passengers per annum by 2030.

In order to help meet the growing demand for air travel at Edinburgh Airport, the private airport operator, BAA, has committed to a significant £200m investment programme over the next ten years, including a £40m extension to the departure lounge.

The total package of private investment is likely to be sufficient to allow the airport to accommodate 18m passengers and roughly double the amount of air freight carried per annum by 2020. Significant additional investment will be required to take airport capacity from 18m to 26m passengers per annum, which may require the construction of a second parallel runway.

The Airport’s expansion is just one facet of an emerging and ambitious shared vision for the future for the whole of West Edinburgh. Scottish Enterprise is leading on the preparation of a draft West Edinburgh Implementation Plan, which will once finalised will set out a joint programme of action required to finalise the vision for West Edinburgh and provide a mechanism for the coordination of action and investment across the public and private sectors. The provision of an extended range of strategically located development sites will provide opportunities for Scotland’s company base and enhance the value of Scottish proposition for inward investment. The provision of an increasing number of showcase events at the National Showground will also create many more opportunities for business growth.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Edinburgh Airport’s Master plan will help the airport support up to 16,040 jobs in Scotland by 2030.
  • The Master Plan has the potential to boost Edinburgh Airport’s contribution to Scotland’s GVA to £867 million.
  • A thriving and growing airport is vital to the success of the West Edinburgh growth zone which sets out a vision for an International Business Gateway that could over time become a hub for major developments and investment by international companies.
  • As the international gateway to Scotland, investment in Edinburgh Airport’s infrastructure is essential if Scotland is to meet its ambitions as a major tourism destination.
  • A growing and expanding airport is critical in assisting Edinburgh’s financial services sector weather the recession and grow strongly into the future.
  • The airport’s relatively strong environmental position on noise and air quality indicate that economic benefits gained from development substantially outweigh the costs.

Linda McPherson, regional director, Scottish Enterprise, said: “The future growth of Edinburgh Airport is undoubtedly of considerable importance in the context of Edinburgh’s position in the global economy.  BAA’s planned investment associated with the airport’s Master Plan is directly linked, not only with the growth of Edinburgh’s economy but with the future economic success of Scotland.

“Strong connectivity is a key driver of economic activity across a range of Scotland’s key sectors and also often a deciding factor in many companies location choice when considering investment decisions.  Future growth of Edinburgh Airport will bring quantifiable social and economic benefits which far outweigh any associated development costs.”

Gordon Dewar, managing director of Edinburgh Airport, commented: “This is the most comprehensive study that has ever been undertaken into the airport’s current and potential future contribution to the Scottish economy. It confirms the airport’s critical importance to Scotland and to the industries on which our success depends, such as tourism, financial services and bioscience.

“We are already seeing Edinburgh Airport buck the trend that has seen traffic decline at most other airports.  This bodes well for the future and it is because of our confidence in that future that we have committed to a £200 million programme of investment in the airport over the next ten years, critically without the use of a single penny of taxpayers’ money.”