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Props to the rugby

Posted: 14th March 2019

Six Nations helps airport to busiest ever February.

Passenger numbers at Edinburgh Airport increased by eleven per-cent last month as the Six Nations rugby tournament saw fans flying into the capital.

A total of 939,412 passengers came through the airport in February, up from 846,502 on the same month last year, with strong new route growth and season extensions also contributing. It’s the busiest February on record for Edinburgh Airport.

Last February also saw Beast from the East and Ryanair’s decision to pause the Stansted route impact on passenger numbers.

Feb 2019 % vs Feb 2018
Domestic 403,085 +10.5%
International 536,327 +11.4%
Total 939,412 +11.0%

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport said:

“Passenger numbers have rebounded well since last February and we said at the time we were confident they would because our appeal both in terms of outward and inward tourism remains strong. Clearly no heavy days of snow has been welcomed and we always see an influx of rugby fans who see Edinburgh and Murrayfield as a must visit destination and stadium.

“We should also take confidence in the fact that the continuity of flights no matter the Brexit outcome has been guaranteed and that should allow passengers to plan with confidence. But we should still be looking to give ourselves the best possible outlook by cutting APD and showing that we remain open and an attractive destination.”


Domestic market was ahead +10.5% vs February 2018 due to the following reasons:

  • Ryanair’s Stansted route returning and running fully with an additional daily frequency
  • Ryanair launched a new route to Derry (Oct 18) & easyJet launched a new service to Jersey (Mar 18)
  • Increased frequencies to London City by both BA Cityflyer and Flybe compared to last February

International market recorded a +11.4% YoY growth due to 22 new international routes launched last year. These are the reasons for the strong growth in more detail:

  • Ryanair started operating 8 new international routes last winter: Seville, Tallinn, Berlin Schoenefeld, Stockholm Skavsta, Lisbon, Memmingen, Sofia & Riga
  • Ryanair also started route to Hamburg earlier in 2018 and extended Goteburg-Landvetter route to year-round
  • Emirates launched a new daily service to Dubai
  • Hainan Airlines launched a new service to Beijing
  • Since last February, easyJet started a new route to Seville, and extended the Naples service to year-round.
  • Air France using a larger plane than last year
  • Ski destinations were more popular than last February
  • Increase in charters due to Six Nations rugby games
  • Finnair previously didn’t operate the Helsinki route in February
  • TUI have doubled their February capacity to Canary Islands compared to last year

Popular destinations in February were:

  • Poland & the Baltics: Warsaw, Gdansk, Poznan, Katowice, Wroclaw & Riga
  • City Destinations: Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome & Budapest
  • Ski destinations & Switzerland: Grenoble, Salzburg, Turin, Basel & Geneva

New routes to be launched in 2019 (12 routes: 10 international and 2 domestic):

Mar 2019:

Loganair to Islay

Apr 2019:

American Airlines to Philadelphia

Ryanair to Billund & Luxembourg

May 2019:

Delta Airlines to Boston

Jet 2 to Bodrum, Bourgas and Corfu

Loganair to Bergen, Stavanger & Guernsey

June 2019:

Alitalia to Milan (to both Linate and Malpensa)

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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