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.

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