Tuesday 14th February, Mike Stewart of Glasgow Prestwick Airport

Ron Ireland & Mike Stewart

At their recent meeting Ayr Rotary Club played host to Mike Stewart, the Business Development Director of Glasgow Prestwick Airport. His audience eagerly listened to the history and future plans for this iconic landmark and employer. He began by advising that Glasgow Prestwick Airport has been an operational airfield for almost 100 years. In that time it has served as a base for UK and US forces and it continues to provide valuable quality military aviation services to the UK, US, Canadian and other military forces from across the globe. It was purchased by the Scottish Government in November 2013 to protect jobs and safeguard a strategic infrastructure asset. The airport operates as a commercial business at an arms length from the Government. A Group Structure was put in place following the purchase of the airport. This structure includes Prestwick Aviation Holdings Limited Board, which is Chaired by Andrew Miller who was appointed in November 2014 and since coming on board he has brought together a knowledgeable group of Non-Executive Directors.

Prestwick Airport during WW2

In addition to the new Non-Executive Directors, the airport has also been through a reshaping exercise that saw the creation of a new Executive team. This team lead the day-to-day running of the airport, the delivery of a strategic plan and the implementation of this plan, with the view of returning the airport to a position of profit and long term sustainability. This team is supported by approximately 320 staff who work across areas including business support, passenger handling, cargo, air traffic control, compliance, fire services and a number of other areas.

Mike continued by affirming that Glasgow Prestwick Airport is an important asset for Ayrshire and companies based in and around this facility are major employers and play a central role in the local economy. In addition to the contribution which is made to the economy, Mike said the whole team are committed to adding social value for the community that hosts these operations.

He also said the airport offers functional and flexible passenger facilities, first class customer service, a range of options for onward connections, a one stop shop for aviation and handling services, a track record of reliability and access to a catchment that makes in excess of 1.6 million trips per year. He announced he is very confident in securing new carriers to fly from Glasgow Prestwick and discussions are in an advanced stage with several passenger airlines.

And regarding cargo, Glasgow Prestwick Airport is Scotland’s premium cargo airport. With the benefit of a lack of congestion, investment in specialist handling equipment and the efficiency of its operating structure, the airport is capable of delivering a speedy and efficient turnaround of all sizes of freighter aircraft. The cargo team has significant experience in handling large and unusual items of cargo recently including four cargo planes full of Madona’s wardrobe and not to be outdone, seven cargo planes full of Beyonce’s wordrobe.

On the subject of Spaceport, Mike said Glasgow Prestwick Airport is working to become one of the UK and Europe’s first spaceports and the UK Government announced that it would be developing a regulatory framework for spaceport sights. Ahead of the details of this framework being announced, Prestwick’s management team are continuing to work with industry to build a network of partners, suppliers and customers and a technical feasibility study was carried out to assess what investment will be required to become an operational spaceport. The study showed that with approximately £3 million investment, that the airport could become an operational spaceport. Such was the interest, past President Douglas Haddow had to limit the numerous questions posed to Mike. Ron Ireland gave the vote of thanks