My Column

Airport plan helps scots to fly high

  • Date: Monday 27th January 2020
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I was delighted to read last week that Edinburgh Airport celebrated its busiest year in history in 2019.

A record number of 14,747,830 passengers travelled through the airport, an increase of 3.1 per cent from 2018.

The growth of international services have reportedly helped to drive the increase, after several new routes were opened up last year.

I’m proud to see the progress being made here in Scotland and its fantastic news that passengers are taking full advantage of new routes, new airlines and the opportunity to travel.

Edinburgh Airport has grown more and more popular in recent years and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

Airports play their part in Scottish tourism, business, education and culture. They provide a gateway to the rest of the world, opening up new opportunities and giving people the opportunity to expand their horizons.

We are fortunate to live in a beautiful country and I only hope that news like this will encourage more people to visit Scotland and experience what we have to offer.

For Edinburgh airport to be viewed as an attractive option for those wishing to travel is fantastic and we want to be able to offer them the best customer experience possible.

According to reports, December passenger figures for 2019 were also up on the same month the previous year.

However, the domestic market was down 8.9 per cent on December 2018 after Ryanair cut the Stansted route from October 2019 and Flybe stopped operating its route to East Midlands that month.

The sad decision for Ryanair to cancel the route is partly thought to be in response to the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

Unfortunately, it means flights between the Scottish and English capitals have been slashed from four-a-day to four-a-week, so it’s no wonder this has had a detrimental impact on the market.

While international passenger numbers at Edinburgh Airport rose 5.3 per cent on the previous year in 2019, domestic passenger numbers were down 0.7 per cent on 2018.

But for every loss there is a gain and the international market was boosted by several new routes and an increase in services last year.

They included Ryanair’s routes to Luxembourg and Bucharest, EasyJet, which introduced a new route to Verona, and Wizz Air, which started four new routes to Budapest, Bucharest, Warsaw and Gdansk.

Delta increased its service to JFK to daily, while Turkish Airlines did the same with its Istanbul service.

It is tremendous that we have these new routes and that services have increased - this offers passengers even greater choice and is further confirmation of Edinburgh Airport’s position as a key driver for Scotland’s economy.

Scotland is a friendly country filled with unique experiences and the number of tourists who come to visit our country – especially its capital city - is increasing every year.

There’s a lot of great tourists attractions across the country and a whole host of music and arts festivals which drive a great amount of footfall.

Whether visitors are making their way to the Fringe Festival, Piping Live Festival or even to see Dundee’s V&A, it’s fantastic to know that they will be able to experience something new after they arrive at Edinburgh Airport.

While we must celebrate the success of the airport, the impact that aviation has on the environment must also be greatly considered.

Clearly, airport bosses have a responsibility to manage the success of Scotland’s airports in a sustainable manner and I hope that the right steps are being taken to ensure that this is a reality.

The sector must, therefore, accelerate efforts in areas that can have an impact now; largely the design and operation of new and existing airports.

I welcome the news from Edinburgh Airport chief executive, Gordon Dewar, that a strategy is being finalised which reviews operations at Edinburgh to make them even more sustainable.

It’s a great time for Scotland’s airports and I hope that Edinburgh Airport continues to grow and expand, experiencing further success.



 

 

SIDE

It was encouraging to read that a forward thinking Scottish council have introduced mental first aiders in a bid to keep to their workforce healthy. West Dumbarton council have pledged to train staff to recognise the crucial warnings signs, build confidence to start conversations about mental health and steer their colleagues to appropriate support. The issue has for far too long been a taboo subject in many workplaces, despite one-in-four Scots experiencing common mental health problems. While I’ll concede that there has been an increase in awareness of the issue, it can’t be denied that the topic remains problematic when a third of Scots still don’t feel comfortable talking about such an important subject.

That’s why campaigns like See Me, Scotland’s programme are so important. The organisation are leading calls for people to take action in 2020 to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health. They are urging community groups, workplaces, schools, universities, health and social care providers and individuals to start getting involved in Time to Talk day on February 6 – which aims to get everyone in the country talking.

It’s an issue as a business leader that I take seriously, as employee wellbeing is a key element of overall business resilience. Any employer will tell you that creating a healthy working environment is important to ensuring a productive and effective organisation. Added to this is the fact that mental health challenges cost UK employers £45 billion each year, meaning it makes good business sense to tackle the problem.

Those of us in full time employment often spend as much time, if not more, with work colleagues as we do with our friends and family so we all need to remain alert and not be afraid to ask how our desk-mate is doing. My advice this year would be for businesses to take the time to understand mental health, invest in support and to get involved in wider campaigns like See Me. 

LAUGH

I thought this was a tall tale last week, when I discovered that a Scots ATM machine had gone viral after being installed at a ridiculous height in the wall. Customers were left perplexed, some even resorting to stepladders in a bid to access their cash. One image appeared to show a man who claimed to be 5ft 10in having to crane his neck to see the screen and reach for the buttons. How RBS could justify such an install requires more than a stretch of the imagination. With competitor bank brands like Monzo and Revolut leading the way with app based banking and seamlessly integrating into our smartphone lifestyles, ATM’s days may be numbered. In the meantime, high street banks need to sort out these shortcomings and curb services like this that verge on the height of nonsense before customers finally give up and go digital.

 

WEEP

I was disappointed to discover that students from Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas are less likely to secure a professional job quickly after graduating. The Commissioner for Fair Access to Universities publications highlighted the ‘silent discrimination’ these students face when entering the job market. The gap has been partly explained by the fact that socially deprived students are concentrated in universities and in subjects with lower postgraduate progression rates and therefore a lesser qualification when entering the job market. Scotland’s four ancient universities must work hard to increase the proportion of undergraduates from SIMD 20 areas in order to tackle the issue.  Businesses must also do more to widen their recruitment policies and look beyond gap year travels and work experience gained through personal connections or facilitated through family support.  

 

 

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