EDINBURGH Airport yesterday announced new figures showing that it is officially the UK’s fastest growing airport in terms of international passengers.

The 21 per cent growth in international passengers from 2015 to 2016 at Edinburgh pipped Luton Airport for top spot in the table of UK airports above one million international passengers.

This successful expansion has been reinforced by the fact that Edinburgh Airport now has, for the first time ever, more than 200 routes on sale. Last year Edinburgh handled 7,159,297 international passengers, up from 5,915,561 in 2015, a rise of 21 per cent, with Luton recording a 20 per cent increase year on year.

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Glasgow Airport recorded the ninth-largest increase in international passenger numbers, up from 4,610,022 to 5,033,438. The UK airport with the largest decline in numbers of international passengers was Aberdeen, with the problems in the North Sea oil and gas industry leading to a 11 per cent drop from 1,509,419 in 2015 to 1,337,423.

Edinburgh’s international traffic was severely limited at the old Turnhouse Airport before the main runway and passenger terminal were opened in 1977. The airport’s annual domestic and international passenger numbers grew from less than one million passengers in 1977 to 1.85 million passengers per year at privatisation in 1987.

Since then, by intensively developing the land within its boundaries, Edinburgh now handles around 12m domestic and international passengers a year.

The number of passengers travelling through Edinburgh Airport has grown more in the past three years than the previous 10 years. It is anticipated that between 2015 and 2020 passenger numbers will increase to 13.1m in 2020.

Welcoming this latest achievement by Scotland’s busiest airport, Edinburgh’s chief executive Gordon Dewar, said: “This expansion of routes in and out of Edinburgh Airport generates more growth for Scotland’s economy and creates work and leisure opportunities for people and businesses.

“Growth also continues to expand the opportunity for people from overseas to come and visit Scotland.

“We have a healthy equilibrium of inbound and outbound passengers with the most balanced mix of any UK airport outside London.”