The number of people travelling through Edinburgh Airport over the normally busy summer months has fallen drastically due to the impact of Covid-19.

Compared with last summer, Edinburgh Airport footfall is down by 91 per cent this year, prompting airport bosses to call for a "robust testing regime".

A total of 785,000 people passed through the airport between April and September, down from 8.4 million in 2019 - and devastatingly low compared to initial 2020 estimates of 8.8million made at the end of last year.

The airport has blamed the frequent changes to quarantine exemptions and said forecasting for 2021 is "near impossible".

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Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport stressed how much of an impact Covid-19 has had on the aviation industry.

He said: “It’s been an incredibly difficult time for all of us and the scale of the recovery challenge that faces us is now really hitting home.

"These figures highlight the huge impact Covid-19 has had and continues to have, something that is being felt across the travel and tourism industries and the economy as a whole.

“Scotland’s recovery will be protracted and tough, and the aviation industry will face similar challenges to ensure it can reconnect the country to the world. There are still many unknowns which make that difficult to chart.”

The airport previously confirmed the loss of almost a third of its workforce due to the continued impact of Covid-19.

Talks with the Scottish Government on the prospect of a so-called robust testing regime and the possibility of a pilot scheme to evaluate risk mitigation and protection of public health are underway.

In April a drive-through coronavirus testing centre opened for key workers at the airport, which then reopened in June with a “let’s all flysafe” campaign having introduced new measures in and around the terminal.

These included a colour-coded one-way system, protective screens, hand sanitising stations and a trial of temperature-checking technology for passengers departing from Edinburgh.

Mr Dewar added: “We have spent years building growth in our passengers, routes and infrastructure, so to see all of that fall back is a concerning position for us to be in.

"Losing valued friends and colleagues has been difficult for us and we still face an uncertain future as we continue to grapple with this awful virus.

“Our own recovery will be difficult – we do not expect to break even until 2021 and we face tough choices to ensure we protect as many jobs as we can, and that will always be our main focus.

"Our business plans have been in a constant state of flux due to circumstances worsening, the introduction of and constant changes to quarantine, and of course all of this feeds into passenger confidence.

"We need to see a robust testing regime which will protect public health, provide reassurance and see travel and tourism begin to rebuild.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:

“We fully understand industry concerns and will continue to explore whether there is a better balance around quarantine, but we are clear that the risk to public health must be minimised.

“We are not yet satisfied that moving from quarantine to testing would provide enough protection – people in the early stages of incubation of the virus could test negative and go on to develop the virus and spread it.

“However, we are engaging constructively with airport representatives on how testing at airports could work and to assess and understand the impact on public health.

“If we don't keep the virus under control, we make life even harder for the economy and particular sectors.

“As discussions continue, we will seek to find a balance that manages to weigh up both the public health and economic arguments.

“We will continue to support the aviation industry and staff who have lost their jobs through our PACE initiative. As part of our business support package, which now exceeds £2.3 billion, we have provided business rates relief for aviation, airports and ground-handling providers.”