Tam's Tall Tales

- Donald Trump Props Up Prestwick Airport

Donald Trump - Graphic by Gage Skidmore

Trumpberry and Trumpwick

The Donald has been busy. He has now pledged to pump £250 million into the Trump Turnberry Resort. The hotel will have a major upgrade with a ballroom being added and a new golf course constructed.

The plan is to attract high-rolling golfers from all over the world, so he has turned his attention to the nearby Prestwick Airport. He has entered into a “strategic alliance” partnership with the troubled airport to make to make it "really successful." Although estimated costs for his plans for upgrading Turnberry have grown to £250 million, he is not putting any money directly into the Ayrshire airport. But Prestwick will now be the Scottish base for all Trump Aviation Operations, including Mr Trump's private Boeing 757 and Sikorsky 76B helicopter - but will presumably be paying for the use of the base facilities.

In recent years Prestwick Airport has hit some persistent commercial turbulence as Glasgow Airport has more appeal to carriers and passengers who are reluctant to travel from the densely populated central belt of Scotland. Prestwick is now owned by the Scottish Government since 2013, when it bought the airport for just £1 in a last-ditch effort to keep it open. An attempt was made at one point to brand the terminal with "Pure died Brilliant" - a Glasgow phrase signifying approval. But it continues to lose money. Attempts are being made to have Prestwick become the UK's first spaceport. More a case of "pie in space" than "pie in the sky"?

The airport's biggest customer has been Irish-owned Ryanair, which recently started services for the first time from the rival Glasgow airport near Scotland's largest city, with the launch of seven routes. The airline is to continue operating from Prestwick and says it is still committed to the struggling Ayrshire terminal. But some destinations, including Dublin, are moving from Prestwick to Glasgow.

Prestwick has the longest civilian runway in Scotland at almost 3,000 metres is capable of handling the largest commercial aircraft so far built. In the past, its local fog free weather conditions used to make it busy when fog in London or other parts of England made it a major diversionary airport. Advances in "blind landing" equipment have significantly reduced the need for this.

The Donald's plan is that tourists heading to Trump Turnberry will use the airport, flying in from around the world on private planes. Trump and Prestwick will be offering transfers to Trump Turnberry via the Trump corporation’s private helicopter.

He said: "We are going to have planes coming in from New York and all over, very high-level planes like Gulfstreams and Bombardiers. We are going to have a lot of private aircraft flying in, groups or individuals. We expect to be using the airport quite a bit." (Graphic of a Gulfstream G550 here is by Bob Holland, via Wikimedia.

Trump flew in to Prestwick in his private Boeing 757 for a press conference to publicise the plans, saying "We are going to make this really successful. You are going to get a lot of business."

Donald's fighting talk - as always.

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
May 2014

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