Edinburgh and Glasgow airports record highest passenger numbers

Aeroplane Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption All three airports have called for a big reduction in airport passenger duty

Scotland's two biggest airports have reported record numbers of passengers for 2016.

Edinburgh International Airport said 12.4 million passengers flew through the capital last year - an increase of more than 11% on 2015.

And Glasgow said 9.4 million passengers travelled through its doors, an increase of 7.5% in its 50th anniversary year.

Aberdeen reported a 12.2% decrease in the number of passengers.

However, the airport said there were signs the downturn that has hit the north-east economy was beginning to slow, with 230,000 passengers travelling through Aberdeen in December 2015

A total of 3.1m travellers used Aberdeen International Airport during the course of 2016.

Edinburgh Airport said its record-breaking figures reinforced the airport's position as the "fastest growing" in the UK, with the increase down to the new international routes launched in 2016.

New services to Rome, Paris, Helsinki, Reykjavik and Warsaw have been added over the past 12 months.

Image caption Edinburgh Airport said the increase in passenger numbers was down to the new routes and services added in 2016

December 2016 saw 863,147 people pass through the airport - a big increase on the same period in 2105.

Chief Executive Gordon Dewar said it was a "great achievement" for the airport.

"We have continued to enhance passenger choice by offering more routes and more destinations - and people have responded by choosing to fly in and out of Edinburgh Airport in greater numbers than ever before," he said.

"To have smashed this record - exceeding last year's growth rate and having helped over 12.36 million passengers through the airport - highlights the draw of Edinburgh as a destination and the growing global appeal that Scotland holds."

Glasgow Airport said it had seen a 9.2% increase in international traffic and a 5.5% increase in domestic numbers, which it put down to the introduction of 25 new routes and services in 2016.

The airport has created new links to Marseille, Sofia and Brussels, as well as adding a direct service to Toronto in Canada and extra flights to Orlando in the US.

It also launched Scotland's first direct link with South Korea.

Image caption Glasgow Airport celebrated its 50th anniversary year in 2016

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: "2016 was an unforgettable year with so many highlights. To record our best-ever passenger numbers month after month and to carry 9.4 million passengers was a huge accomplishment and to do it in our Golden Anniversary was extra special.

"It was also particularly pleasing that we were able to considerably increase our connectivity across Europe and this is set to continue in 2017 with the launch of six new routes to Munich, Bergen, Lisbon, Valencia, Palanga in Lithuania and Zadar in Croatia."

Carol Benzie, managing director of Aberdeen International Airport, said: "As expected, 2016 proved to be challenging, however, we did see a significant slowing of the decline in our numbers during the latter part of the year.

"The decrease in November's and December's figures were the smallest we had experienced in 2016 which suggest we have come through the worst of the downturn."

Ms Benzie added that the airport had started 2017 on a "much stronger footing" with Ryanair and airBaltic services returning and new Flybe direct flights to London Heathrow coming in March.

All three airports urged the Scottish government to make "swift and substantial" cuts to airport passenger duty (APD).

Ministers want to replace APD, but a consultation on the proposal last year was met with a mixed response.

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