Major investment and development plans for Edinburgh Airport, including new routes, are being highlighted today alongside the revelation of a blockbuster deal in which seasoned operator VINCI is buying a majority stake in the airport.

The deal looks to bode well for further growth in passenger numbers and connectivity at the airport.

VINCI, which is based in France, will control three airports in the UK following the transaction. It has a network of more than 70 airports around the world.

Global Infrastructure Partners, which has overseen impressive growth at Edinburgh Airport since it took over the asset in 2012, will manage the remaining 49.99% interest in the airport after the transaction to sell the 50.01% stake to VINCI Airports for around £1.27 billion is completed.

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The pair have, since 2019, been partners at Gatwick Airport, which is on an ambitious growth trajectory.

Announcing the Edinburgh Airport deal, GIP said: “As part of the agreement, GIP and VINCI will jointly lead investment in, and development of, Edinburgh Airport and establish a long-term strategic partnership for the airport’s future development, similar to the successful partnership established in 2019 at Gatwick Airport.”

Not surprisingly, given the success that Edinburgh Airport has enjoyed under GIP’s ownership, the existing management team at the airport will remain in place.

VINCI, which also owns and operates Belfast International Airport, is likely to reveal more about its ambitions for Edinburgh Airport once the deal completes. The transaction is expected to be completed this summer.

However, the deal looks to be a positive development for Edinburgh Airport and the broader Scottish aviation sector.

It follows a sales process undertaken by GIP, which has shown its expertise in the sector with what has been achieved since 2012 at Edinburgh Airport.

Setting out its broad strategy for the airport, VINCI said: “VINCI Airports will leverage its global airports experience to further develop Edinburgh Airport – both aeronautical and non-aeronautical (especially retail) – by opening new routes and making additional investments.”

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It added that it would also deploy its “environmental expertise to improve the platform's already outstanding ESG (environmental, social and governance) metrics”.

VINCI said: “Edinburgh Airport has a highly experienced management team who will continue to lead the company and whom VINCI Airports is delighted to welcome to its global network.

“This emblematic infrastructure in Scotland is perfectly aligned with VINCI Airports' development strategy.”

The incoming majority shareholder’s enthusiasm seems plain.

VINCI went on to highlight the fact that Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s biggest airport, in terms of passenger numbers, and the sixth-largest in the UK.

And it declared: “Edinburgh Airport is strategically located in the Scottish capital serving a catchment area of more than four million inhabitants. Edinburgh is the second most prosperous city in the UK and one of the main tourist destinations in the British Isles.

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“It currently serves over 150 destinations in 38 countries thanks to close long-term relationships with airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Jet2.”

VINCI underlined the potential for growth in traffic, particularly on long-haul flights.

Edinburgh Airport has since 2012 enjoyed considerable success in this arena.

VINCI said: “Edinburgh Airport benefits from strong traffic fundamentals, and growth forecasts are positive in particular with respect to long-haul segments. Traffic is expected to fully recover its pre-Covid levels during 2024.”

GIP noted that “Edinburgh Airport’s chairman, Sir John Elvidge, and chief executive officer Gordon Dewar will, along with other key leaders, remain in their roles” following the deal.

It is difficult to see any negatives in the deal, which rather looks to afford plenty of room for optimism about what the future might bring.

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The team which has delivered strong growth in passenger numbers and greatly enhanced connectivity at Edinburgh Airport will remain at the helm.

Passenger numbers at Edinburgh Airport, which were a bit shy of 9.2 million in 2012, are expected to top 15 million this year. They totalled 14.4 million last year.

Since 2012, the number of airlines at Edinburgh Airport has risen from 25 to 32, with destinations served up from 112 to 154, routes having risen from 137 to 226, and scheduled long-haul routes increasing from one to 15.

VINCI appears to see great potential for further significant growth and is likely to focus on the customer experience at Edinburgh Airport, as it has done at Gatwick. It brings with it great experience of the sector, which should enable the very considerable achievements of GIP to be built upon.

Hopefully, for leisure and business passengers of course and for the broader Scottish economy as well as for Edinburgh Airport, we will see further successes on the route development front.