Prestwick Airport CEO to be replaced

After just 15 months in charge, Prestwick Airport boss, Ron Smith, will be leaving his position as CEO behind at the end of the month. Although no official reason for his departure has been disclosed, the airport has revealed that the decision was made upon “mutual consent” Continue reading…


Prestwick Airport spends £500,000 on new facilities

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.

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Vital £8.5 million investment for Prestwick Airport

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. Continue reading…


A flight to Europe or a flight to outer space?

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. Continue reading…


Prestwick Airport is on the up!

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. Continue reading…


Jobs at Prestwick, as Malta route begins

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. Continue reading…


Ryanair blamed for January exodus

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.


Prestwick reports 17% passenger boost

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.


NATS criticises £500m turbine project

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).


Job losses at Prestwick

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.