500 passengers - and 71 parrots - caught up in BA industrial action
Almost five hundred passengers - and seventy-one parrots - caught up in the BA industrial action avoided travel chaos when they flew into Glasgow Prestwick on August 12.
With Heathrow closed, two BA flights were diverted to Prestwick - BA 182 from New York which landed at midnight and BA 018 from Melbourne via Singapore which touched down at 0700.
One hundred and fifty-six passengers from New York and three hundred and thirty from Melbourne had expected to be landing in London but instead found themselves at Scotland’s fastest-growing airport - five hundred miles from their destination.
They included mum and daughter Penny and Gemma Burns from Melbourne who were flying to London, and traveling onwards to Inverness. Said Penny: “Nice one, Prestwick; now I’ll get to Inverness much faster!”
Glasgow Prestwick staff disembarked the passengers, offloaded the bags, dealt with all queries, and provided a fleet of buses to get them quickly on their way to the capital.
These included a small number of unaccompanied minors heading for the north of England who continued their journeys by private car.
Some passengers opted to continue their journey south with low-cost carrier Ryanair which is based at the airport.
Freight services staff also offloaded a total of fourteen tons of freight from the two flights.
The 3.5 tons of freight unloaded from the New York flight was DHL cargo destined for London. It was taken by road to London.
The Melbourne and Singapore freight had 10.8 tons of general freight destined for the USA. Prestwick is now making arrangements to get it across the Atlantic.
This flight also had an unusual consignment - seventy-one parrots which were en route to Prague. The birds are currently being checked over by vets and are enjoying a brief holiday in Scotland before flying on to Czechoslovakia.
Glasgow Prestwick Chief Executive Steve Fitzgerald said: “Staff at Glasgow Prestwick rose to the challenge superbly. When we heard Heathrow had closed, we offered assistance to BA and to Glasgow Airport, and they were glad we could help out.
“Aviation Manager Eddie Allison masterminded the operation, supported by staff from all departments round the airport. Everyone rallied round - many came in voluntarily to lend a hand, which was tremendous.
“It’s very unfortunate that the passengers were caught up in the dispute but we did our very best to speed them on their way. Although some were disgruntled that their journeys had been disrupted, many were very complimentary about they professional way we looked after them. We kept them fully informed at every stage.”
Glasgow Prestwick has a large 340-hectare site, no curfew allowing 24-hour operations, minimal fog, two runways, one of which is almost 3000 meters long allowing unrestricted operation including full-range Boeing 747s, and good road and rail connections to Scotland and England.