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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 13:28 GMT
Airline creates 200 jobs
Ryanair plane
Ryanair has a new fleet of aircraft
Budget airline Ryanair has announced the creation of 200 new jobs at Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire.

Ryanair's chief executive, Michael O'Leary, said that engineers were needed at a maintenance facility for the airline's new fleet of 737-800 aircraft.

Maintenance engineers are currently being trained and the new facility should start operating by Christmas.

Mr O'Leary also announced two new routes from Prestwick.

These new routes will offer Scottish tourism a significant boost
Denise Hill
Services will begin to Shannon in the Republic of Ireland and Milan in Italy, bringing the total of European destinations the airline flies to from Prestwick to 14.

He said Ryanair was now contributing about 200m a year to the Ayrshire economy.

The new daily service from Prestwick to Bergamo Airport in Milan is supported by investment from the Scottish Executive's Route Development Fund.

Transport Minister Nicol Stephen said: "Direct links between Glasgow Prestwick and Milan will provide better business opportunities to the whole of Scotland as well as offering a boost to our tourism industry.

"Support for this service demonstrates the executive's commitment to extending the benefits of the Route Development Fund to the whole of Scotland."

The fund was set up in November in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and tourism body VisitScotland to help secure new direct air services to the country.

More than 1.5 million passengers used Prestwick Airport last year and predictions have put this year's figure at 2.2 million.

Mr O'Leary forecasted that four million passengers would be passing through the airport by 2008.

Denise Hill, from VisitScotland, welcomed the announcement.

She said: "These new routes will offer Scottish tourism a significant boost.

"Direct access to Scotland from Ireland and Italy is a key platform for boosting our profile as a `must visit' destination across Europe."

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