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July 21, 2010

The History and Development of Edinburgh Airport

A look at how car hire services, shops and restaurants have been essential in the development of Edinburgh airport.

Edinburgh Airport is widely regarded to be the largest and busiest in Scotland. In the past twelve months it has handled around nine million passengers and in terms of UK airports is the seventh busiest. Its location is a mere eight miles from the city of Edinburgh and with a wide variety of auxiliary services such as shops, restaurants and car hire desks it employs a large number of local residents. But what is the history behind Edinburgh airport, how has it managed to assert a position of primacy over the other airports in Scotland?

Like many airports within the UK the origins of Edinburgh are military. It was during the First World War that the Turnhouse Aerodrome was constructed. 1915 saw the inaugural flights although the planes that flew into the site used a grass, rather than tarmac landing strip. The grass runway continued being used until the outbreak of the Second World War when the air ministry, once again requisitioning the site paved the runway to allow larger planes to land safely. It was not until two years after the end of the war that the Edinburgh site was finally retuned to civilian use.

In 1947 the airport was being used by British European Airways and five years later the runway had to be extended to accommodate the new larger passenger planes. At this time a new terminal was constructed with services such as shops, cafes, car hire desks and restaurants to improve the passenger experience. This process of expansion was continued in the seventies when the site had a further runway extension and another terminal built. One again this terminal was filled with the car hire provisions, cafes and shops that are hallmarks of the modern airport.

During these early years destinations available to passengers from Edinburgh Airport were limited to domestic airports within the UK. It was only in the eighties that flights to Amsterdam and Dublin were started although the popularity of international flying soon grew. By the nineties flights were available to many European destinations in France, Germany and Spain as well as transatlantic flights to two airports in the United States. To accommodate the greater passenger numbers a terminal extension had to be constructed, this contained all of the usual auxiliary services such as car hire desks and retail outlets to further enhance the profits of the airport.

Like all UK airports Edinburgh has had to produce an expansion plan that details the development of the site over the next thirty years. Part of this development includes an expansion of the departures lounges and other waiting areas complete with retail space for car hire companies and shops. In addition though the plan put forward by Edinburgh Airport executives included a new pier attachment to the terminal and a resurfacing of the runway that will comprise a billion pound investment in the site. Further in the future the site also expects to gain planning permission for an extended runway to allow for larger transcontinental aircraft and another terminal to cope with the increased passenger numbers.

Edinburgh airport has evolved from humble beginnings into a modern airport complete with all of the usual accoutrements such as car hire provisions, road and rail links as well as retail services. If the plans for expansion go ahead the primacy of the site within Scotland will be somewhat assured whilst the operability will be increased. As Scotland’s most important air transportation link development is a very important element to any future plans.

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