Ryanair to begin flying from Glasgow
Budget airline Ryanair has confirmed it is to start flying from Glasgow Airport in October, with the launch of seven routes.
The airline is to continue operating from the publicly-owned Prestwick and has stressed its commitment to the struggling Ayrshire terminal.
But it said some destinations, including Dublin, would move from Prestwick to Glasgow.
Ryanair is also to launch a new Stansted service from Edinburgh.
The airline is the sole remaining scheduled passenger carrier at Prestwick, which was bought by the Scottish government for £1 last year.
It will continue to fly on seven routes from the Ayrshire airport over the winter months. Only about half of Prestwick's revenue is dependent on passenger traffic.Maintenance facility
In a media conference on Thursday morning, Ryanair said it would operate 55 flights a week out of Glasgow from October as part of what it said was a £260m investment in Scotland.
It said it hoped to bring an additional 850,000 passengers through Glasgow International each year.
Ryanair's existing once daily flight from Glasgow Prestwick to Dublin will now switch to Glasgow as part of an expanded three times daily business service between Glasgow and Dublin.
Despite this switch, Ryanair said it "remains committed" to its long-standing base at Prestwick, where the airline has a major maintenance facility.
It said it was currently in discussions with Glasgow Prestwick and the Scottish government to explore growth opportunities to and from Prestwick.
Ryanair said its winter routes from Glasgow will be to Bydgoszcz, Derry, Riga, Warsaw Modlin and Wroclaw.
Winter routes from Prestwick will be to Alicante, Barcelona Girona, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Malaga and Tenerife.
Ryanair also announced three new daily business flights between Edinburgh and London Stansted.
There will also be a total of 16 winter routes from Edinburgh.Prestwick facts
- Ryanair is the only scheduled passenger carrier at Prestwick and currently flies to 24 destinations in the UK and Europe.
- Passenger flights account for only around half of the airport's revenue, with freight and retail accounting for the rest.
- Freight movements include daily Boeing 747 flights and additional charter flights.
- The airport handles cargo including livestock, oil well equipment and aircraft engines.
- Prestwick has handled the biggest cargo load ever to fly from Scotland (124 tonnes) on the world's largest aircraft, the Antonov An225.
- The airport is used for transatlantic freight and for fuel stops.
- The Scottish government bought Prestwick Airport for £1 in November 2013, after it had suffered a pre-tax loss of £9.77m in its final full year under previous owners Infratil.
- In June the Scottish government announced £10m of new funding for the airport, to be spent on operating costs, tackling a repairs backlog and making improvements to the terminal building.
A Scottish government spokesman said: "We welcome Ryanair's further investment into Scotland, which will strengthen our connectivity and help all of our airports flourish, and we congratulate both Edinburgh and Glasgow on securing new routes.
"Whilst the number of routes from Glasgow Prestwick Airport is fewer than offered last winter, Ryanair has assured us of its continuing commitment to the airport and of its intention to actively consider growth options in the future.
"These service changes are part of the normal revision process that airlines undertake to optimise their business. Ryanair has previously advised that changes to their schedule are due to a combination of factors, including a reduction in their aircraft fleet numbers.
"With the introduction of new aircraft in 2015, there is an opportunity for the team at the airport to make a strong business case for their use on Prestwick routes. We look forward to working with Ryanair, and other airlines, to improve the destinations on offer from Prestwick in the future."
The spokesman also echoed a call from Ryanair for the UK government to abolish Air Passenger Duty.
The Scottish government took Prestwick Airport into public hands late last year when its former owner Infratil earmarked it for closure.
At the time, it was said the airport supported 1,400 local jobs, was worth £60m to the Scottish economy and was considered too important to close by Scottish ministers.Public investment
In June, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Prestwick was to receive nearly £10m of investment from the Scottish government.
The funding was to go towards operating costs, a repairs backlog and to make improvements to the terminal building.
Ms Sturgeon said a further £5.5m had already been provided since acquisition.
Responding to Ryanair's announcement, Scottish Labour's transport spokesman Mark Griffin said: "More flights for Glasgow are welcome but the removal of the last remaining Ryanair passenger service to Dublin from Prestwick airport is deeply worrying."
He added: "Over £15m of public money has been ploughed into the facility and we know that last year it was losing £1m each month.
"The Scottish government must come forward with a full business plan on how they intend to turn things around."
The Scottish Conservatives called for the airport to be returned to the private sector "at the earliest opportunity".
Transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said: "This is a disaster for the Scottish government, just weeks after boasting about how it had come to the airport's rescue.
"While investment at Scotland's two main airports is welcome, and proves the benefit of privately-owned airports like Glasgow and Edinburgh, the reduction at Prestwick is a blow."