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Massive expansion to immigration hall takes off at Edinburgh Airport

05 October 2009

Edinburgh Airport has commenced a new £2 million project to significantly increase the size of its immigration hall, following a near tripling of international passengers numbers over the last ten years.

As with other points of entry into the United Kingdom, the Edinburgh Airport immigration hall is managed by the Government's UK Border Agency (UKBA).  The project by Edinburgh Airport to expand the immigration hall and improve the facilities available to the UKBA will provide a 25% increase in the immigration hall's peak time capacity.  The new facility has also been designed for additional desks and new technology to be installed in the future, to allow for growth in international passenger numbers over the next six years.

The project will run for a total of three months, with a significant part of the new hall will open to passengers at the end of October.  Although the existing immigration hall will remain operational at all times during the project, the phasing of the works will limit the available space to arriving passengers.  Additional staff from Edinburgh Airport and airline ground handling agents will be on hand to work with the UK Border Agency in order to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth journey through immigration for passengers.

The expansion of the immigration hall follows huge growth in international flight and passenger numbers at Edinburgh Airport over recent years.  Edinburgh Airport now has direct flights to 25 different foreign countries, with over half of arriving international passengers flying in from Spain, Ireland, Germany and France. Over two million international passengers now arrive at the airport every year, a figure that compares to just 700,000 in 1999.

Edinburgh Airport Managing Director, Gordon Dewar said,

"Few would have predicted such massive growth in international flights at Edinburgh Airport, with new services being announced virtually every month.  Up to 10,000 international passengers now arrive at Edinburgh Airport every day, triple the number of ten years ago.

"This growth, combined with the additional checks that are required following the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks, has placed considerable pressure on the immigration hall.  This is why we have already taken a number of steps to increase the hall's capacity, including a 50% increase in the number of available desks earlier this year. However, given the growth in passenger numbers at the airport, it is right that we press ahead with increasing the overall size of the immigration hall to ensure our international passengers can pass through the airport as quickly and securely as possible.

"It is inevitable that a major three month project of this kind will cause some disruption to the normal operation of the immigration hall and I would want to apologise in advance to any passengers who are affected.  We are working closely with the UK Border Agency, airlines and others to try and minimise that disruption and ensure the immigration hall operates as smoothly as possible over the coming months."

Colin Fraser from the UK Border Agency added,

"We are delighted to be working closely with Edinburgh Airport on this project.  We envisage that the additional capacity in the immigration hall will greatly improve the passenger experience whilst maintaining a robust border control."