In December, Ayrshire MP Brian Donohoe lamented Ryanair’s stranglehold on Prestwick Airport, warning that one axed flight could spell tragedy for the travel hub.
Just three months into the New Year, Mr Donohoe’s dislike for Prestwick Airport appears wholly forgotten about after Ryanair announced yet another expansion to its Ayrshire base. From the beginning of May, the Irish carrier is to add an extra flight per week to five destinations, including Carcassonne in France and Palma in Spain.
The news comes just weeks after Ryanair commissioned a new maintenance hanger to be built at Prestwick, the second of its kind in the area. The airport is also the home of the largest control tower in Europe, again completed within the last few weeks.
Prestwick’s future is not as bright as it seems, however: passenger numbers are still well below normal. In January, just over 100,000 people flew from Prestwick Airport, a 22% nosedive on the same period last year. The airport’s owner, Infratil, a company from New Zealand, blamed poor weather for the lull, despite Prestwick’s reputation as one of the most resilient airports in the UK.
With regard to Ryanair’s latest expansion, Brian Donohoe was bursting with joy. He said that the "enormous surge in business" was "very, very good news", and said that he was "absolutely delighted". The MP, who represents the Labour Party, is a keen follower of the airport’s fortunes.
Ryanair has almost trebled its presence at Prestwick since December: the carrier now has six aeroplanes on the runway and 29 routes on its Ayrshire schedules. The latest announcement also extends the firm’s commitment to Malaga and Alicante in Spain, and Faro in Portugal by one flight per week.