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Prestwick Airport spends £500,000 on new facilities

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Page last updated: 2nd Mar 2017 - 12:06 PM

Prestwick Airport has recently splashed out £500,000 on its new facilities. The money has been spent on 8 new baggage cars costing £293,000 and luggage belts worth £90,000, as well as an upgrade to air conditioning within the departure lounge. Plans to improve check in technology, back up generators and walkway barriers are also in the works.The new features come after the disappointing news that the airport’s passenger numbers are in decline, as well as its freight numbers decreasing, too.

Last night Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Investment in Prestwick is essential for it to grow as a business, but there must be proper oversight of how public money is spent and whether it represents value for money.
“Substantial sums have already been invested in the airport but it doesn’t seem to be improving.

“Too often in the past the spending of taxpayers’ money has been wasteful and we need to ensure that this is not the case again.”
Accounts show that the airport made a £9.21 million loss in 2015/16, with passenger numbers falling from 827,000 to 624,000.A Glasgow Prestwick Airport spokesperson said: “There has been an historic lack of investment in the airport prior to the Scottish Government taking ownership.

“We operate in a highly regulated and competitive market. In order to deliver a compliant, profitable and sustainable business for the long term, strategic investments will be required. These current investments enable us to ensure the highest safety standards, reduce our operating costs and bring in new business.”

The airport, which was purchased for £1 by the Scottish government, in 2013 after a private buyer couldn’t be found, saw 609,937 passengers pass through their doors in 2015. Busiest routes internationally include Barcelona, Malaga and Alicante.
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, questioned whether the Scottish Government should be backing the airport.
He said: “Taxpayers will be wondering how the authorities are finding the funds for this loan when making necessary savings is having to be balanced against delivering essential services.

“In the light of the recent news report about the Chief Executive’s taxpayer-funded luxury bed, hard pressed families picking up the bill are unlikely to look favourably at this.”

Things are looking up for Prestwick though, as the airport has been shortlisted as a potential Spaceport for the upcoming commercial flights that are looking to be available within the next 3 years, transporting passengers from earth to outer space. However, with ticket pricing estimated at around £200,000, we should all start saving!

Want to keep up to date with all of the Humberside Airport information? Follow @Airport_Guides on Twitter and on Facebook for all the news you need to see.

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Prestwick Airport spends £500,000 on new facilities

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Page last updated: 2nd Mar 2017 - 11:53 AM

Prestwick Airport has recently splashed out £500,000 on its new facilities. The money has been spent on 8 new baggage cars costing £293,000 and luggage belts worth £90,000, as well as an upgrade to air conditioning within the departure lounge. Plans to improve check in technology, back up generators and walkway barriers are also in the works.The new features come after the disappointing news that the airport’s passenger numbers are in decline, as well as its freight numbers decreasing, too.

Last night Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Investment in Prestwick is essential for it to grow as a business, but there must be proper oversight of how public money is spent and whether it represents value for money.
“Substantial sums have already been invested in the airport but it doesn’t seem to be improving.

“Too often in the past the spending of taxpayers’ money has been wasteful and we need to ensure that this is not the case again.”
Accounts show that the airport made a £9.21 million loss in 2015/16, with passenger numbers falling from 827,000 to 624,000.A Glasgow Prestwick Airport spokesperson said: “There has been an historic lack of investment in the airport prior to the Scottish Government taking ownership.

“We operate in a highly regulated and competitive market. In order to deliver a compliant, profitable and sustainable business for the long term, strategic investments will be required. These current investments enable us to ensure the highest safety standards, reduce our operating costs and bring in new business.”

The airport, which was purchased for £1 by the Scottish government, in 2013 after a private buyer couldn’t be found, saw 609,937 passengers pass through their doors in 2015. Busiest routes internationally include Barcelona, Malaga and Alicante.
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, questioned whether the Scottish Government should be backing the airport.
He said: “Taxpayers will be wondering how the authorities are finding the funds for this loan when making necessary savings is having to be balanced against delivering essential services.

“In the light of the recent news report about the Chief Executive’s taxpayer-funded luxury bed, hard pressed families picking up the bill are unlikely to look favourably at this.”

Things are looking up for Prestwick thought, as the airport has been shortlisted as a potential Spaceport for the upcoming commercial flights that are looking to be available within the next 3 years, transporting passengers from earth to outer space. However, with ticket pricing estimated at around £200,000, we should all start saving!

Want to keep up to date with all of the Humberside Airport information? Follow @Airport_Guides on Twitter and on Facebook for all the news you need to see.

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Vital £8.5 million investment for Prestwick Airport

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Page last updated: 22nd Nov 2016 - 12:53 PM

Aircraft maintenance firm Chevron Aircraft Maintenance has invested £8.5m into Prestwick Airport. The company's aim is to create a “world-class centre of excellence” for various aspects of the airport such as aircraft engineering and maintenance and training. The expansion will create 82 jobs, 67 of which will be highly specialised positions, while expecting to increase turnover by around £10 million,taking it to £19 million by 2021.

Keith Brown, Holyrood economy secretary said:
"The company's investment, which is being supported by our economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, underlines their commitment to Scotland and is great news for the local Ayrshire economy.

This development will bring many new and highly-skilled jobs to the Prestwick area. I wish the team every success with the new venture and look forward to hearing of their achievements."

Shouldered by a regional assistance grant of £2m from Scottish Enterprise, the redevelopment which will begin towards the start of 2017, has been spurred on by increased levels of customers travelling and market demand. The facilities that the airport possesses provide great space for the firm’s line maintenance support operations, including a maintenance and overhaul facility, a training school, an aircraft decommissioning site and on-site office and workshop which features;

An EASA 145 approved Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hangar facility
Engine, office and workshop facilities, located on site! Including a EASA Part 147 approved Training School
A highly modernised and environmentally friendly Aircraft and Engine Recycling facility for decommissioning
A commercial training aircraft for Care & Maintenance programmes

Neil Morris, managing director of Chevron Aircraft Maintenance, said: "The airport is in an excellent location at the midway point of the Great Circle Route making it a convenient stop-off point for the many aircraft that have existing flight planning over the airport.
"The facility will enable the Chevron group to handle a large range of aircraft and we hope that we can offer additional benefits to Glasgow Prestwick's existing customer base across passenger, cargo, military, executive and general aviation."

Glasgow Prestwick Airport chief executive officer Ron Smith said: "Chevron will bring in additional revenue for us through this lease but we also hope that this will provide us with an additional selling point for passenger and cargo airlines, and other aviation customers including executive, military and general aviation to operate services to and from Glasgow Prestwick Airport."

Prestwick Airport holds the position of 5th busiest airport in Scotland in terms of passenger traffic, falling short to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness Airport, although holds the title of largest Scottish airport in terms of area over land. Passenger levels hit 2.4 million in 2007 after a decade of growth thanks to low budget airlines such a Ryanair. Sadly in recent years the airport has seen a big dip in interest with around 600,000 passengers using the facility in 2015. Let's hope the redevelopment brings big changes for them!

Want to keep up to date with all of the Prestwick Airport information? Follow @Airport_Guides on Twitter and on Facebook for all the news you need to see.

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A flight to Europe or a flight to outer space?

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Page last updated: 14th Jul 2016 - 12:27 PM

After much planning and deliberation, Scotland has taken another step towards sending flights into orbit! Prestwick Airport have teamed up with two companies - one a space plane firm and the other a launch vehicle designer - to help this space mission become a reality.

A senior member of the team told Scotland Now that "We already have the vast majority of the infrastructure in place and with as little as £1 million investment we could be up and running.” The manned flights, which will be taking place in a XCOR's Lynx space craft, will take passengers to the edge of space.

The sub-orbital flights will be the first ever to take off from the UK. The progress that has been made in recent weeks has been good for the UK government, who decided to scrap a competition to decide on the first spaceport earlier this year. We wish you all the luck, Prestwick Airport!

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Prestwick Airport is on the up!

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Page last updated: 25th Jan 2016 - 02:46 PM

Mike Stewart, the New Business Development Director of cargo for Prestwick Airport, was recently appointed in November 2015 and has set out to drive freight contracts to Prestwick.

Stewarts’ 25 year background of working in aviation started out in engineering and eventually lead to his opportunity to manage the British Airways World Cargo regional operations.

With very little time to settle down, Mike Stewart quickly secured 285 tonnes worth of business to the airport, including a contract with Madonna to move stage set equipment for her December show at the SSE Hydro. Stewart maintains that freight is an “easy win” for Prestwick and that the “Madonna cargo win highlights exactly where Prestwick has not attempted to expand business under the new ownership of New Zealand-based infrastructure investment firm, Infratil”.

Stagecoach were the company to sell Prestwick Airport in 2001, which gave Infratil the chance to purchase the airport immediately for £33.4 million. However it was reported that as early as 2012, the company was running up losses of roughly £2 million a year.

As it stands, Prestwick has only one passenger carrier belonging to Ryanair, since the airport lost its contract with Wizz Air to Glasgow Airport in 2013. However as passenger growth is certainly a key focus, Stewart states “We need to understand the needs of our potential customers so we can approach airlines to meet those needs”

He goes on to add that he aims to achieve new passenger routes. These will help to increase the customer base from 5.9 million trips in 2013. Surveys within our catchment area will help us find out what customers want.

A corporate 5 year commercial plan was devised and sent to the government in order to return profitability. Within that, a year by year plan has been devised to get Prestwick through.

Want to keep up to date with all of the Prestwick Airport information? Follow @Airport_Guides on Twitter and on Facebook for all the news you need to see.

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Jobs at Prestwick, as Malta route begins

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Page last updated: 27th May 2011 - 02:42 PM

Prestwick Airport has hired ninety seasonal workers. The new employees will help resident carrier, Ryanair, handle its “busy summer schedule”, which includes a new flight from the Scottish airport to the Mediterranean island of Malta. The twice-weekly route, which was launched on April 14, joins Alicante in Spain and Faro in Portugal as the cornerstone of Ryanair’s ‘sun and sea’ campaign at Prestwick.

Airport chief, Iain Cochrane, said that Prestwick was “gearing up” for the warmer months. “If we do well over the summer, it will demonstrate that Prestwick can be successful in (the sun and sea) sector." Mr. Cochrane’s comments allude to a gradual shift away from the domestic routes that had once been Prestwick’s speciality, such as Dublin and Edinburgh, towards resorts in Spain, France, and Portugal.

However, local newspaper, Herald Scotland, poured cold water on the airport’s plans for the summer, by suggesting that Prestwick’s slogan, 'Pure Dead Brilliant', would be more befitting of the airport if the final adjective was removed. A little cynical, perhaps, but Prestwick is nonetheless entering the 2011 summer season with 29 fewer Ryanair flights than in the same period last year.

Passenger numbers, arguably a measure of an airport’s fortunes, are falling, from 2.4m in 2007, to 1.5m in 2010. Prestwick has not turned a profit in two years, and that situation is unlikely to change, according to Louise Congdon, partner at York Aviation, who notes that airports struggle to make money unless they can anticipate annual passenger numbers in excess of 2m people.

Ryanair is currently the linchpin in Prestwick’s business, providing 24 of the hub’s 28 routes. The other four destinations are operated by Polish carrier, WizzAir, Newmarket Holidays, and Atlantic Holidays. The airline offers some financial security, but Prestwick’s future is nonetheless controlled by an airline that is prone to sudden, sweeping cancellations. The Irish carrier has already demonstrated this trait at Prestwick Airport, forcing 40 redundancies, and seeing off 40,039 passengers between January 2010 and the same month this year.

Whether the Herald’s doomsaying is justified will soon become clear. However, few would deny that Prestwick’s reliance on Ryanair is unhealthy. Finding another airline to compete with the carrier is imperative if bosses want to avoid a scenario in which Scotland's fourth airport only has a handful of routes on its books.

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Ryanair blamed for January exodus

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Page last updated: 16th Mar 2011 - 02:47 PM

The latest figures released by New Zealand-based firm, Infratil, have revealed that Glasgow Prestwick Airport lost 40,039 travellers between January 2010 and the same month this year. The slump, equal to a 40% reduction in passenger numbers, is the result of capacity cuts by budget airline, Ryanair.

Whilst it would have been easy for Infratil to heap blame on Michael O’Leary’s airline, the Kiwi firm has singled out the Air Passenger Duty (APD) as the reason for Prestwick’s sour fortunes. Last year, O’Leary referred to APD as “tourism suicide” and “insanely stupid”, before making a decision to base fewer planes in the UK. The Irishman’s pledge ultimately resulted in the loss of domestic routes between Prestwick and airports in London and Belfast.

Comparisons will inevitably be made between the figures for January 2011, and those for October 2010, when the hub recorded a 17% boom in the number of people choosing to fly from Prestwick. The stark contrast in performance serves to emphasise just how much the Scottish hub relies on Ryanair to bring passengers and business into Ayrshire, a dependence that has previously been criticised by local MP, Brian Donohoe.

The termination of Ryanair flights from Prestwick has also forced 40 redundancies, around 10% of the hub’s workforce. Iain Cochrane, chief executive at the airport, said that the aviation industry was struggling with a “very difficult market” at present. However, Mr. Cochrane was hopeful that a series of new flights, due to debut this summer, would dispel the black clouds hovering over Prestwick. The new destinations include Spain, Portugal, the island of Majorca, and the Canary Islands.

Infratil, which also owns Kent Manston airport in the UK, and a 66% share in Wellington Airport in New Zealand, said that freight numbers were “performing strongly” at Prestwick. The Scottish airport also enjoyed a minor passenger boost in December, as heavy snowfall forced Edinburgh and Glasgow-bound aircraft to divert to Prestwick.

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Prestwick reports 17% passenger boost

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Page last updated: 17th Dec 2010 - 02:35 PM

Prestwick Airport's resident airlines, Ryanair, Flybe, Wizz Air, and Freebird Airlines, which may or may not be named after the Lynyrd Skynyrd song, helped more passengers find their holiday destinations in October 2010 than in the same period last year. The rise, a boost of around 17%, has been attributed to the collapse of major airline, Flyglobespan, at Edinburgh Airport.

The Ayrshire hub is likely to have experienced higher than normal traffic in November and early December too, as Edinburgh and Glasgow, the first and second largest airports in Scotland, were forced to divert 30 flights to Prestwick due to heavy snow. Prestwick is frequently used as a ‘safety net’ for planes that cannot land at other airports, due to its apparent invulnerability to the elements.

In total, 177,280 travellers paid a visit to Prestwick in October 2010, a good 25,000 more than in October 2009. Graeme Sweenie, CEO at New Zealand firm, and current owner of Prestwick, Infratil, noted that the airport had a “strong summer,” buoyed by the loss of 24 Flyglobespan routes at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. The airline’s demise sent its 1.6m annual passengers to other carriers, such as Ryanair at Prestwick.

October might seem like a slow month with regard to people jetting off on holiday, especially when compared to August or December, but the school half term at the end of the month is becoming an increasingly lucrative period for UK airlines. Budget flights from Prestwick to Arrecife on Lanzarote and Faro in Portugal are helping families escape the Great British drizzle, whilst the city of Riga in Latvia, also on Prestwick’s books, is an ideal location for ballet and theatre fans.

However, Graeme Sweenie remains cautious about the bleak mid-winter months, to quote a carol, noting that the colder season tends to be “challenging” for the aviation industry.

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NATS criticises £500m turbine project

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Page last updated: 26th Nov 2010 - 10:50 AM

Aviation firm, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), has raised concerns about a proposed wind farm near Prestwick Airport, claiming that the blades of wind turbines could create "clutter" on radar screens, endangering nearby aircraft.

The farm, which is being managed by Scottish and Southern Energy Renewables (SSE), will be located 35 miles east of Prestwick, on either side of the M74 motorway.

SSE wants to build 152 turbines on the site, with a view to infusing the Scottish power grid with an extra 548 megawatts of electricity, enough to keep toasters running in 320,000 homes.

However, the development could ‘blind’ NATS’ traffic tower at Prestwick Airport to approaching aircraft. The aviation firm appears to be particularly concerned about light planes, which have smaller radar signatures, and are more likely to be hidden beneath other radar objects, such as windmill blades.

Criticism from NATS appears to have taken SSE by surprise. The energy firm has “miscalculated the impact” that the windmills could have on Scottish aviation, according to local newspaper, the Evening Times, prompting organisers to delay the project for up to a year and a half.

A statement on the NATS website reads, “Wind farms can degrade the performance of voice communications facilities and en-route navigation aids.” To compensate, the company has been given 18 months to build a new traffic tower in Glasgow, which should counteract any negative effects that the wind farm has on radars.

NATS regularly assesses the impact of near-airport developments on aviation through a specialist department known as NERL (NATS En Route PLC).

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Job losses at Prestwick

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Page last updated: 23rd Jul 2010 - 02:56 PM

Ryanair’s decision to pull half of its winter flights out of Prestwick Airport could have resounding consequences for the local workforce. The Ayrshire hub has revealed that up to a third of its permanent staff members could be fired, as passenger numbers at the airport continue to fall.

Prestwick employs around 410 people at present, including those housed in the various retail units around the site.

Job cuts will leave the hub shorthanded, but bosses have envisaged a plan to retrain staff to take on multiple tasks. Fire fighters could be encouraged to take on baggage handling duties, for example, but hopefully, the scheme doesn’t work in reverse: baggage staff are unlikely to be as efficient at dousing flames.

The airport will consult with unions and workers before axing any jobs. Iain Cochrane, the airport’s CEO, claims that Prestwick is ‘optimistic’ about the future, but warned that job cuts are ‘likely,’ - ‘these are extremely difficult times. I am very sorry to say that in this review it is likely that there will be redundancies.’

Mr. Cochrane went on to list the problems that the airport was facing, including the Air Passenger Duty and the growing trend in ‘staycations’ – Brits holidaying at home. Prestwick is at the mercy of Ryanair, however, and the airline’s decision to cut 52% of its winter flights has done damage to the tiny airport.

In December, Ayrshire MP, Brian Donohoe, warned Prestwick bosses about the possibility of a Ryanair exodus, and even went to the trouble of phoning rival airlines, in an attempt to lure extra business to the airport.

The MP’s clairvoyance will be of no comfort to Prestwick’s beleaguered workers now though, as many of them could be jobless by the time the advent calendars appear on supermarket shelves. Irene Oldfather, another Scottish MP, expressed ‘deep disappointment’ at the news.

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