Foreign arrivals at Edinburgh Airport are likely to see some long delays over the next few months as the immigrations hall has started to undergo huge renovations. The hall will be enlarged by 25%, and the works are likely to seriously affect millions of foreign travellers passing through the airport.
Edinburgh is one of the busiest airports in the UK, and currently sees flights arriving from 25 countries. The majority of these are from Ireland, Germany, France and Spain.
9 million passengers passed through the airport last year, and 40% of those were international travellers. The number of overseas passengers passing through the airport has tripled over the last decade, and is certain to expand even further following the renovations to the immigrations hall.
The rise in international passengers has been rapid. In 1999, 700,000 international passengers passed through the airport each year. In the last few years this figure has been more like 2 million a year, or about 10,000 per day. This huge rise was not expected, and it is this that has led to the need for the increase in the size of the immigrations hall.
Gordon Dewar, the managing director of Edinburgh Airport, apologised in advance for the problems that it would cause to numerous journeys. He explained that, with a project of such a size, there were certain to be problems that could not be prevented. He confirmed that the airport is “working closely with the UK Border Agency, airlines and others” in a bid to keep disruption to a minimum.
The new immigration hall will use advanced technology to provide improved security, such as facial recognition software. The redesign will cost in the region of £2 million.