Third World Gateway

For my sins, I use Edinburgh Airport  (EDI) often. It rates well above root canal treatment on my list of painful experiences. What is particularly galling is that millions in investment have only made the place worse since a blog here on December 17th 2016 called “Fleein‘” discussed designs of various airports and awarded EDI “nulle points”.

Now serving 14m m passengers, it was already cramped and poorly laid out when present owners Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) bought it from BAA eight years ago, “investment” seems to have meant “pour money into boosting retail and parking income; infrastructure and long-term planning can wait.

The contrast could not have been starker when I flew to a real airport last month Easyjet flies EDI-MUC (Munich) daily (and are habitually late). The outward leg contrasted EDI as a crowded retail mall with a runway attached with the expansive, modern ease of MUC. Munich is twinned with Edinburgh; you’d think they would pick up some ideas. But airside departures at EDI is crammed with retail outlets and waiting passengers but almost devoid of signage for either departures or gates.


Layout of Edinburgh Airport.

The map above is inaccurate. Actually, Gate 1 is five date (1A-1E), none of which have jetways, nor do all gates beyond 12, all of which involve an extra 250m walk down a long, blank tunnel through a construction area.

Arrival at MUC is a pleasing contrast. Up the modern jetway within 4 ,imutes of reaching the stance, you wait 30 seconds at passport control before following signs though spacious halls for “S-Bahn”, buy your EUR11 ticket. Withinn 15 minutes, you are sitting in a train and in 30 more you’re in the city centre.


Layout of Munich Airport

Note the modular design of Munich, with parallel runways and jetways at every gate for ease of boarding and deplaning. It is an integral, logical design that owes nothing to Heath Robinson and everything to German efficiency.

But if the flight out provides contrast between the slick operation at Munich and the cheapskate kludge that is Edinburgh, the return is much more stark. Leaving Munich is as  swift and well signed as the arrival. But last month, Edinburgh was a nightmare.

They recently switched international arrivals from the cramped space at the West end to a new grey barn at the East end. In so doing, they had damaged all six of the recently introduced passport scanning gates. As a result the half-dozen Border Force posts are overwhelmed. Fifteen minutes of waiting on the plane for a bus to arrive turned into another 20 standing in the bus waiting to get into the new barn, followed by a half-hour of snaking the length of the overcrowded barn six times before having your passport checked.

We had landed a half-hour late but that had become 1 1/2 hours by the time we picked up our bags. And, as if to add insult to injury, that pushed the time well past 11:30pm so that we had to pay night bus fares to get into the city.

Don’t just compare Edinburgh to Munich. Take any reasonably comparable city—Dublin or Lisbon or Barcelona. They all offer modern, spacious, efficient gateways to their country that are both businesslike and welcoming. Edinburgh is neither, being operated primarily as a GIP cash cow on an infrastructure shoestring worthy of some fly-blown dictatorship. This is not Kampala, nor Ulan Bator. While being touted as “Where Scotland meets the World“, a more accurate slogan for Edinburgh would be “Where visitors to Scotland meet the Third World.”

About davidsberry

Local ex-councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Retired in 2017.
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