The spectacular growth at Edinburgh Airport has been an international success story. We’re Scotland’s busiest airport and have just recorded the busiest ever year for a Scottish airport, handling more than 13.4 million passengers in 2017 – mostly down to the fact we have attracted more airlines to fly to more destinations more frequently.

And the foundations of that growth can be traced back to GIP’s acquisition of the airport in 2012. It was a game changer for Edinburgh – it removed shackles placed on us by the previous owner, we were no longer a branch office but a major international airport deciding our own future.

That ability to make our own decisions was the biggest and most important change. GIP spotted the potential Edinburgh had and wanted to unleash it. And they realised that real autonomy and a focus on Edinburgh and Scotland was the key to that success.

We could determine our own strategies and chase routes we wanted. We were able to put in place a team we knew could take us where we wanted to go and harness what we as an airport and a city could offer. And they have.

We’ve gone from just under 9 million passengers in 2011 to more than 13.4 million in 2017 – growth of 50%. We previously had 1 scheduled long-haul route, where today we have 12 scheduled and 3 chartered.

We’ve ventured into the Middle East, including the recent announcement of a direct Dubai flight which opens up a whole range of onward destinations as well. We’ve expanded our North American routes to 6, both markets bringing visitor growth. Our well established European hub connectivity has grown extensively, including and maintained a strong domestic market that is as popular as ever.

And we have moved into new and exciting territory in China, with the launch of Scotland’s first direct flight to the country just a few weeks away. The Beijing route has huge potential for all of us.

A market of more than 1 billion people. A country steeped in history and culture. A country home to one of the business capitals of the world. And a country that has strong links with Scotland.

Tourism is a huge part of it but it’s also about business, engineering, financial services, culture and education. There’s so much to gain from and so much to offer to China, we just need to be ready for that.

It opens a door to the Far East and it’s now about keeping it open and unlocking other destinations. We’re already planning for that, investing more than £220 million in new capacity to support growth over the next five years.

Our new terminal extension, housing new gates, border facilities, baggage reclaim hall and retail outlets, will open this summer and will allow us to handle even more passengers and flights.

We shouldn’t look at China as the culmination of a strategy, but see it as the beginning of a new challenge. We don’t cap ambition or success at Edinburgh Airport, instead creating an environment where innovation, creativity and growth thrives.

New routes bring adventure and new horizons. We should be embracing and preparing for that because as the place where Scotland meets the world, Edinburgh Airport wants to extend that welcome as far as it can.

Gordon Dewar is chief executive of Edinburgh airport