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.