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End of Edinburgh Airport SID trial

Today Edinburgh Airport’s much talked about flight path trial comes to an end - and I realise that for some people it has been difficult.

We’ve worked hard to make sure that the flight path affects the least amount of people. Where possible it flew over rural areas and water – but we could not avoid flying over some communities, and not everyone agrees with the merits of this trial.

What we surely must all agree on is the recent great news showing an increase in the number of tourists coming to Scotland.

Over 15.5 million tourists visited Scotland last year – spending around £5+ billion. This reinforces just how vital tourism is to Scotland’s economy today and to Scotland’s future economic growth.

Edinburgh Airport recognises the need for and supports greater growth in Scotland.

Growth brings jobs and opportunities and that in turn can deliver better living standards for the people of Scotland and gives the country greater bargaining power to compete in the global market to bring more success.

From the initial trial period we recognise that using this flight path has delivered gains for passengers and for the environment. It has allowed us to cut runway traffic and get passengers into the air faster than ever before.

In July and August this resulted in over 300 minutes of reduced ground hold time which means far less fuel burn and less waiting on the ground for our passengers.

But not everyone likes it. There are some people in communities, particularly Uphall, Dechmont and Ochiltree who feel their quality of living has been negatively impacted by additional noise.

I attended the main public meeting and listened to residents that were unhappy about the trial - and I understand that they have concerns for what we may plan to do in the future.

What we are going to do next is analyse the data and findings from the trial. This will, of course, include the feelings and concerns of people who contacted us during the trial as well as the findings from noise monitors that have been positioned in the communities neighbouring the airport.

If we deem the trial to have been a success then Edinburgh Airport would then apply to the Civil Aviation Authority for a full Air Space Change Process.

If we go ahead with this we must ensure that any air space change is justified - the growth in demand for flights to and from Edinburgh to across the UK and mainland Europe combined with the congestion of the present air space suggests that it is justified.

If successful in that application we would fully consult with our neighbouring communities. Aside of our legal obligation to carry out this engagement it could also be an opportunity for the airport to gain a greater understanding of our neighbours concerns and hopes.

Should we come to consult then we would aim to show that the air space change we are proposing has the least impact possible and the trial’s findings demonstrate that this is truly is the most appropriate fit.

We care greatly about our local standing as we are local ourselves. It might seem like an odd claim for an international airport to make but a huge number of the people who benefit from the 8000 jobs that Edinburgh Airport supports live within 20 miles of the airport - myself included.

The airport has a responsibility to meet the demands of the country – demand both domestically and demand from overseas.

With over one million passengers through the doors at Edinburgh Airport last month - and in every one of the last five months - we are continuing to grow to around 11 million passengers in 2015 and in doing so will create jobs and make a positive contribution to Scotland’s economy.

Growth will also come from changes to Air Passenger Duty. As a business we fully support the Scottish Government’s plan to cut and ultimately abolish APD.

This move will further increase opportunities for economic growth – but with increased demand comes the need to make more air space available.

The hard facts are that flights – both at present demand and with the expectancy that growth will deliver a need for more - need to go somewhere.

If we reach a position where there has been an air space change then we will seek to minimise and mitigate any additional noise footprint and that will be done for specific people and properties based on the direct impact they face.

I have today written to every complainant and each of the MPs and MSPs who have been in touch to mark end of the trial.

My hope now is for a reasoned and rational debate about how the airport is to grow in order to deliver for Scotland and at the same time maintain positive relations with our neighbouring communities.

Gordon Dewar

CEO, Edinburgh Airport