DOMESTIC flight passenger numbers at Scotland's busiest airport are nearly half that from before the Covid pandemic - as it welcomed new daily flights to an international tourist hotspot this summer.

Some 11,261,873 people travelled through the airport in 2022 - nearly a third (3.5m) down on the levels of 2019 - before the pandemic struck.

The biggest hit was on domestic travel, with 3.064m going through the airport - some 42.6% (2.27m) down on pre-pandemic levels.

But the airport declared a "strong recovery" as the number of passengers in 2022 is over 8m more than in 2021 when it was still impacted by the pandemic and travel restrictions.

The airport numbers have soared after it was able to run a full summer schedule in 2022 for the first time since 2019.

Executives last year predicted that numbers would than treble in the year - and the numbers have matched those expectations.

The biggest improvements were best felt with international flight passengers with  8.2m travelling through Edinburgh, which is 13% down on 2019.

As more people got back to both domestic and international travel last year, airports including Edinburgh were faced with longer lines for security and baggage checks, as more people get back to both internal and international travel.

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: "We are encouraged by the ongoing recovery in passenger numbers in 2022, which we hope in turn reflects more economic activity across the country, as inbound visitors to Scotland provide a much-needed shot in the arm for our tourism and hospitality industries.

HeraldScotland: Edinburgh Airport

“There is little doubt that people want to travel – both from Scotland for holidays or business opportunities or those international tourists coming to experience the best of Scotland’s visitor attractions and beautiful places and landmarks.

“The important challenge for us, in partnership with the city, the Scottish Government and others, is to facilitate growth in a responsible way and in a way that protects the vast number of high-quality jobs that airports provide, both directly and indirectly through airlines, handling agents among others, and the supply chain that supports us all.”

It comes as Delta Air Lines increased its Edinburgh Airport to Atlanta route to a daily service rather than a previous limited service first suggested.

The service was initially set to operate five times per week when it was first announced last September but will now rise nto seven times per week from May 25 to September 5.

It means Delta will operate daily services on all its Edinburgh routes this summer – New York JFK, which is all year round, an two seasonal routes to Boston and Atlanta.

Despite more flights entering and leaving the UK as a whole in 2021, the number of passengers then fell to a record low, sparking criticism from environmental organisations over the impact on the climate of running emptier flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority data showed 43,674 planes took off or landed at Edinburgh airport in 2021.

This was down five per cent from 45,966 in 2020, and the lowest number since comparable records began in 2010.

By comparison, there were 131,617 flights in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2021, just 1.6m flights to and from UK airports – the second-lowest number since 2010, but up from 1.5m in 2020.

But despite the rise in the number of flights nationally, the number of passengers passing through UK airports fell from 74.4m to 65.4m – the lowest on record.

Meanwhile a leading Scots academic is to explore how Edinburgh Airport can shape a more prosperous Scottish economy, moving towards net zero, and how airports can provide sustainable growth by working more closely with the cities and wider areas they serve.

Professor Duncan Maclennan is looking at Edinburgh Airport’s broader role in civic Scotland, comparing and contrasting with international cities like Sydney and Toronto.

The airport says it hopes Professor Maclennan’s report will start a national conversation in Scotland about the role of aviation in building stronger international trade.