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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Charges blamed for airport switch
bmibaby plane
The airline operates two flights to Cardiff on week days
A low-cost airline has blamed charges at Glasgow Airport for its decision to switch a service to Prestwick.

Bmibaby will start flying to Cardiff from the Ayrshire airport next month.

Prestwick's managing director, Tom Wilson, described the move as a "significant win".

However, BAA - which owns Glasgow Airport - said its charges were necessary to pay for the massive investment being carried out at its three Scottish airports.

The bmibaby service will run twice daily during the week, with single flights on Saturday and Sunday.

The airline has been operating out of Glasgow Airport since October last year.

Competitively priced

A spokeswoman said the service, which will move to Prestwick on 28 July, had proven "very popular" with business travellers.

The aim is to attract 150,000 passengers each year to the service, which will initially be accompanied by free rail travel to anywhere in Scotland.

Tony Davis, the managing director of bmibaby, said: "In order to be able to offer such fantastic low fares we have to ensure that the airports we use are competitively priced.

"The higher costs at Glasgow International have restricted our ability to offer a wide range of attractive fares and continue to restrict new route development in Scotland."

This is the first switch of its kind in modern times and demonstrates we are Scotland's only true low cost airport,
Tom Wilson
Prestwick Airport

He also warned that the services from Glasgow to the East Midlands could also be switched to Prestwick in the long-term.

Mr Davis said bmibaby would also be keen to operate international services from Prestwick.

Mr Wilson said he welcomed the decision of a large low-cost carrier to move from Glasgow to Prestwick.

"This is the first switch of its kind in modern times and demonstrates we are Scotland's only true low-cost airport," he said.

Budget airlines Ryanair, Globespan and Air Arran Express already operate from Prestwick.

BAA spokesman Malcolm Robertson said the company was disappointed that the bmibaby service was leaving Glasgow.

Glasgow Airport
Glasgow Airport says its charges have fallen over the last decade
But he said: "We are not particularly surprised given the low passenger numbers on that route."

He stressed that BAA had not increased its airport charges at Glasgow.

Mr Robertson said they had been reduced by 25% in real terms over the last decade and stressed that the company was committed to cutting them further in the future.

"It is only natural that airlines want to pay as little as possible for services," he said.

"But at the end of the day, airport charges have to reflect your ability or otherwise to invest in the facilities which will handle the passenger volumes brought to you by the airlines.

"We have spent half a billion pounds in Scotland over the last 10 years and we are committed to spending half a billion pounds in the next 10 years.

"That investment has to come from somewhere."

The money will be spent on BAA's three Scottish airports - Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen - to cope with projected increases in passenger numbers.

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