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Glasgow Prestwick International Airport

From Academic Kids

Glasgow Prestwick International Airport (IATA Airport Code: PIK, ICAO airport code: EGPK) is a facility situated north of the town of Prestwick in Ayrshire, Scotland. The airport is often called Glasgow Prestwick International Airport because Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, is only 46 km (29 miles) North-East of the airport.

In physical terms, Prestwick remains Scotland's largest airfield, although in passenger traffic terms it sits in third place after Glasgow's main airport, Glasgow International, near Paisley and Edinburgh Airport, both of which are operated by BAA.

Contents

History

The airport began life around 1934 — primarily as a training airfield — with a hangar, offices and control tower being in place by the end of 1935. With the onset of World War II, the airport developed rapidly in order to handle the large volume of American aircraft ferry traffic.

In 1938 passenger facilities were added, which were used continuously until the implentation of a massive investment programme to make Prestwick compatible with the new jet transports which were becoming available. A runway extension, parallel taxiway, link road, and an all-new terminal building were opened by the Queen Mother in 1964.

Scottish Aviation built a factory using the original terminal building and hangers at Prestwick, which produced such aircraft as the Jetstream and Bulldog. When Scottish Aviation went bankrupt and were merged with British Aerospace, BAe maintained aircraft production at the site until 1998. Today the factory produces components for Airbus aircraft, as well as Jetstream maintenance work.

In the beginning, Prestwick was the only Scottish airport allowed to operate a transatlantic link, largely due to the very benign weather conditions on the Ayrshire coast. Indeed Prestwick has a much lower incidence of fog than any other airport in Great Britain. It was also partly a political decision to silence those that questioned why Glasgow needed two airports when Glasgow Corporation had already invested money building Glasgow Airport.

Prestwick Airport is also famous because it is the only piece of British territory that Elvis Presley set foot on, when his US Army transport plane stopped to refuel in 1960, whilst en route from Germany.

Change in the 1990s

In 1991 the newly-privatised British Airports Authority, BAA plc consolidated their portfolio of UK airports. Part of this was to move all transatlantic traffic departing from Scotland to Glasgow Airport, near Paisley, and sell Prestwick off to the private sector. In the early-to-mid 1990s, only freight traffic and a small number of charter flights used Prestwick on a regular basis, and the airport faced an uncertain future. The massive terminal building echoed with the sound of silence through the early 90's.

1994 marked the beginning of a renaissance for the struggling airport. It took the shrewd move and built its own railway station on the existing Glasgow-Ayr line, which ran straight past the airfield. Then, Irish budget line Ryanair opened a route to the airport from Dublin. This led to another route to London the following year. The resulting rapid growth of European no-frills airlines in the late 1990s has seen Prestwick grow even larger than it had ever been in traffic terms under state ownership. Ryanair now offers 13 different destinations from Prestwick - now one of their maintenance hubs - and other budget airlines have moved into the airport.

Today, as well as the thriving no-frills segment, Prestwick has continued its traditional strategic role as a refuelling point for military aircraft - the US Air Force and the RAF are frequent visitors for example. Cargo traffic has also become another stronghold of Prestwick with the vast majority of Scotland's Boeing 747 Freighter traffic entering via the airport.

The airport is privately owned by Infratil, New Zealand investment company. In August of 2004, Infratil announced a £3 million refurbishment programme for the terminal building which will see the expansion of the shopping areas and a revamped central concourse.

Destinations served

Prestwick is now a fast-growing airport serving the following destinations:

Domestic

International

Charter & Holiday

Airlines serving Prestwick

The main scheduled carrier at Prestwick is Ryanair, operating the vast majority of flights from the airport. The only other scheduled carriers are Aer Arann, BWIA West Indies Airways and Air Wales, on behalf of BMIbaby.

Holiday airlines operating from Prestwick vary seasonally, but include My Travel, Britannia Airways, Balkan Holidays and LTE.

Regular freight operators include Cargolux, Polar Air Cargo, Atlas Air, British Airways World Cargo, Air France Cargo, and Singapore Airlines Cargo - all operating Boeing 747-400F aircraft, with Polar Air having a maintanence hanger at the airport. Air Foyle HeavyLift and Volga-Dnepr are also occassional users of Prestwick with Antonov An-124 aircraft.

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