Prestwick airport dealt blow by Wizz Air departure

Wizz Air are switching to Glasgow airport. Picture: AFP
Wizz Air are switching to Glasgow airport. Picture: AFP
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PRESTWICK airport was today dealt another blow with Wizz Air announcing it is switching its flights to rivals Glasgow.

• Wizz Air’s decision to switch to Glasgow will leave Ryanair as the only carrier serving the Ayrshire airport

• Wizz has operated from Prestwick for seven years, flying to Warsaw and Gdansk

• Airport has lost half its annual passengers since 2006’s peak of 2.4 million

Wizz’s move from March will leave the up-for-sale Ayrshire airport with Ryanair as its sole remaining airline.

The Hungarian carrier has been lured away by the prospect of more passengers at Glasgow airport, which it said travellers preferred. Prestwick is 30 miles south of the city.

Wizz has operated from Prestwick for seven years where it flies to Warsaw and Gdansk in Poland.

The move will come as a further setback to New Zealand-based airport owners Infratil, which has failed to find a buyer since deciding to sell the site last March as an “under-performing asset”.

The airport has lost half its annual passengers since 2006, when they peaked at 2.4 million. The downturn has been caused by Ryanair flight cutbacks, routes transfered to Edinburgh and falling passenger demand.

However, Ryanair is to launch two new Polish routes - including Warsaw - from Prestwick this summer, bringing the total there to 27.

The airline has mentioned the possibility of launching flights from Glasgow but has remained committed to maintaining an operating base at Prestwick.

The no-frills carrier also has one of its biggest aircraft maintenance centres at the airport.

Loss is ‘insignificant’

A spokesman for the airport said: “The loss of wizz from March is disappointing after a long, positive and productive relationship but is relatively insignificant as its flights only account for a very small percentage of our total summer schedule. Our long-term partner Ryanair, on the other hand, has once again demonstrated its commitment to Prestwick by increasing capacity here by 10% to 27 routes for summer 2013, launching two new services to Rzeszow and Warsaw, thereby boosting our passengers to 1.4m per annum and providing 95 low-cost flights a week to popular destinations such as Tenerife, Alicante, Faro and Corfu. This gives Scots an even greater choice of value-for-money summer destinations and is a further boost for the local economy, with more visitors to Scotland coming through the airport gateway. So we’re looking forward to a superb summer here at Prestwick.”