Edinburgh Airport has become 'sad and spooky' place

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

  • Published
Edinburgh Airport runwayImage source, Dan Maltby
Image caption,
Dan Maltby's inspections of the runway at Edinburgh Airport are much easier with such few planes using it during the lockdown

One of the small team in charge of Edinburgh Airport's runway has told how the normally busy and buzzing hub has become an empty and lonely place during the lockdown.

Dan Maltby said the airfield had become a sad and spooky place and it was rare for him to bump into anyone now during his 12 hour shifts.

The airport's 50,000 passengers a day in the summer has now dropped to 300.

And its hundreds of ground staff, pilots and cabin crew are furloughed.

Mr Maltby, airside operations duty manager, said he was required to inspect the length of the 1.5 miles (2.4km) runway four times a day.

He said: "The runway is the airport's biggest asset so it is inspected four times a day.

"Normally at this time there are planes taking off and landing every 90 seconds and it is therefore very difficult to get onto the runway to check it.

"I have to speak with air traffic control, you can't just go onto the runway, it has to be a co-ordinated approach and I also always look out for planes to be sure.

"There is a lot of weight and stress on the runway and the weather plays a big part to so I am constantly monitoring it.

"Normally I do it in sections in between flights and it takes about an hour, but now the runway is empty and it's much quicker to check it."

Image source, Dan Maltby
Image caption,
Dan Maltby says he rarely sees anyone now during his shifts at Edinburgh Airport due to the lockdown

The 32-year-old has worked at the airport for 10 years, his partner is cabin crew and his father is a pilot.

He is responsible for safeguarding the airfield, which includes the runway, taxiways and aircraft stands.

He said: "I'm responsible for everything outside of the hub that is within the boundary fence.

"It's normally a busy and buzzing hub but now it's a completely different place.

"It's a lonely and sad place now and it's spooky.

"It's usually full of people so it's been a weird experience. There is normally loads of people about but now it's the bare minimum and I see maybe just one person a day."

Image source, Dan Maltby
Image caption,
Edinburgh Airport had become a lonely place during the lockdown

His job also involves making sure no wildlife is sucked into the planes engines.

He said: "My colleague and I have been taking it in turns to drive around the perimeter track for wildlife management as that is the biggest threat to aviation.

"Normally I'm so focussed on my role and my responsibility to make sure the area is safe but now I've had time to reflect on the importance of the runway.

"The runway is symbolic. It is one of the main gateways in and out of Scotland. It's the start of an adventure and it is also the end for passengers coming home.

Image source, Dan Maltby
Image caption,
Dan Maltby has taken drone footage of the airfield at Edinburgh airport to show how quiet it now is during the lockdown

"It is how Scotland connects with the rest of the world. It is a multicultural place with 50,000 different people coming in and out a day normally. But now it's like its artery has been severed to the point it is lifeless."

He said he longed for the return of life to the airport once again.

He said: "It has really hit home how much this is not just a landing strip. It enables people to live their lives and to be able to do fantastic things and I hope it can get back to taking people on holiday, visiting relatives or getting married in Italy if they want."

Image source, Dan Maltby
Image caption,
Dan Maltby said Edinburgh Airport was very empty just now during the current lockdown

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