A HUGE slump in Edinburgh Airport passenger numbers will cost Scotland 21,000 jobs, managers have earned.

New figures have revealed airport user numbers have dropped to their lowest level for 16 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airport handled a little under 3.5m passengers in 2020 – a 76% reduction on the previous year and is estimated to have cost the Scottish economy around £1bn and over 21,000 jobs during the same period.

The airport said the grave economic impact on jobs will not yet all be realised due to the furlough scheme.

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport said the slump is a one reflection of the long-term damage being inflicted by Covid-19 on Scotland’s economy and its social fabric.

But he added "it is a worrying one" and that there was "no clear path to recovery" for the aviation industry.

READ MORE: 'No consultation': Scottish airports have 'no idea' how strengthened quarantine rules will work

“Nobody should assume that when the pandemic subsides, life will go back to normal. At the airport, we will be starting from a low level of activity not recorded here since 1995 and the choice of airlines and destinations may be dramatically different to those we had worked hard to build before 2020 and on which many people depend for bringing visitors to Scotland and for holidays and business, including exports," he said.

HeraldScotland: FIVE-YEAR DEAL: Stockton-based Onyx Group will provide the full range of outsourced IT services and act as an extension of Edinburgh Airport’s inhouse team

"We believe that now is the right time for industry, government and trade unions to be thinking about a substantial economic recovery plan – one that does not distract the health professionals from the important job of saving lives and protecting the NHS today, but one which puts Scotland in the best possible position to recover as quickly as possible when the conditions allow.

“The power and impact of the aviation industry cannot simply be measured on passenger numbers and the number of aircraft arriving and departing – thousands of people rely on airports and airlines, and their vast supply chains, for the income that puts food on the table and pays the bills. Other countries around the world are providing support for their aviation sectors and UK and Scottish Governments should do the same.”

Independent research on the airport’s economic impact suggests the reduction in passenger numbers to a total of 3,478,501 resulted in a cost to the Scottish economy of £1bn and over 21,000 jobs.

The estimate came as Edinburgh Airport worked with BiGGAR Economics to understand the impact of the airport on Scotland’s economy.

Their report found that in 2019, Edinburgh Airport generated £1.4 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) and 28,000 jobs in the Scottish economy.

The airport said that after ten years of significant growth, passenger numbers were down in every quarter as the pandemic took a grip on Scotland with tighter restrictions on travel and border controls.

The vast majority of people travelled before the pandemic hit and numbers plummeted by 99% between April-June, 83% between July-September and 90% between October-December.

The concerns emerged as Scottish airports demanded support as they admit they have "no idea" how strengthened quarantine rules will work.

The First Minister confirmed on Tuesday that a managed quarantine system for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland - regardless of which country they have come from - will be introduced as soon as practicably possible. They are due to go further than the other nations of the UK.

But Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports - which operates Glasgow and Aberdeen airports - said it lacked "any detail" on how the latest layer of restrictions will be implemented.

And a spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: "We still don't know how this is expected to work."