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Busy month for airport

Almost one million passengers travelled through Scotland's busiest airport last month, figures show.

It was Edinburgh Airport's busiest ever September, taking the number of passengers arriving and departing at the airport over the last three months to close to three million.

The majority of passengers last month were on international flights at 529,206 while 429,783 passengers traveled domestically.

Compared to last September there was a 9% increase in passenger numbers to 958,944. In 2012 around 9.2 million passengers used the airport, making it Scotland's busiest.

Chief executive Gordon Dewar said: "Since May we've experienced more passengers travelling through Edinburgh Airport than ever before, this has been our most successful summer on record, with September being no exception.

"We've had a massive growth this summer, having also just reported our strongest quarter on record. We've clearly been the airport of choice and this is a great validation for Edinburgh Airport and the city as a whole.

"Throughout the busy summer the passenger has remained our top priority and we want to keep it that way. We're constantly working hard to ensure they have the best airport experience possible."

The airport recently announced new routes for next year, including flights to Chicago which will launch in May. An expansion of the terminal is also due to start this month to increase space and cater for more passengers.

The growth at Edinburgh is in contrast to Prestwick Airport which the government is planning to buy.

Despite seeing a 7% rise in September passenger numbers compared to last year, Scottish ministers are negotiating with owners Infratil in order to " secure the future of Prestwick Airport and the businesses that depend on it".

The Ayrshire airport has been up for sale since March last year and the owners estimate annual losses to be in the region of £7 million.

The airport only hosts Ryanair flights and 121,772 passengers used it last month.

Management said cargo flights were also increasing with 1105 tonnes being shipped, 43% up on September 2012.

Chief commercial officer Graeme Sweenie said: "We're delighted to see passenger numbers continuing to rise at Prestwick.

"I believe ultra cheap flights, low-cost parking and being the only airport in Scotland with our own railway station are the key factors in our continuing success this summer."

Glasgow Airport also had a busy month as 765,000 passengers travelled through its doors, an increase of 3.8% compared to September last year.

It continues a trend of rising passenger numbers which saw it have its busiest summer in five years.

Domestic and international traffic grew by 5.5% and 2.6% respectively during September.

Aberdeen continued the growth trend with 322,000 passengers using it last month, a 6.3% increase on last year.

The airport, which is a hub for the offshore industry, reported a 13.3% decrease in helicopter flights.

Both airports said large conferences during September added to the increase in passengers.

Glasgow Airport managing director Amanda McMillan said: "There were a number of events within Glasgow during September, including the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference, which contributed to a strong demand for domestic services, and with the SSE Hydro now open the city can look forward to attracting even more large-scale events.

"We have made a positive start to October and we are currently preparing for what will be our busiest weekend of the year.

"More than 110,000 people are expected to pass through our doors this weekend for the start of the October school holiday week, which will mark the end of the busy peak season."

A £17 million investment plan to improve the airport before next year's Commonwealth Games is to start later this year.

Carol Benzie, the newly-appointed managing director of Aberdeen Airport, said: "The week of Offshore Europe saw a huge influx of passengers, as we expected.

"Our operational planning and engagement with airline and retail partners meant that week went well.

"We are also continuing to see underlying growth reflecting through in these figures and show a strong performance in Aberdeen. Recent news of the launch of some key services, such as Riga and Oslo, will ensure that this underlying growth continues.

"Of course we continue to monitor and engage on the issues facing Aberdeen's helicopter fleet operators and we will continue to work in partnership with them throughout."

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