RYANAIR is splashing out tens of millions of pounds on a new plane which will spearhead its first flights in and out of Glasgow Airport.

The Irish carrier is to take delivery of a Boeing 737-800 in time for the launch of city flights to seven destinations in three months' time.

As reported in later editions of last night's Evening Times, Ryanair is switching part of its Ayrshire operation to Glasgow.

But Glasgow's gain has fuelled speculation over the future of Prestwick Airport. Ryanair is the Ayrshire base's only passenger airline and six of the seven routes planned for Glasgow are being switched from Prestwick.

Airline chiefs are spending more than £52.5million on a new plane which will be based at Glasgow, and are expected to create dozens of jobs at the base in Glasgow.

The airport will offer three daily flights to London Stansted as well as Dublin as Ryanair attempts to cash in on business links between both cities and Glasgow.

The budget airline also plans a winter schedule with flights from Scotland's biggest city to Bydgoszcz, Warsaw, Modlin and Wroclaw in Poland, Riga in Latvia and Derry in Northern Ireland.

Ryanair chiefs say they are committed to Prestwick and plan further investment but every route apart from London Stansted is being switched from Ayrshire to Glasgow from October 16.

The decision by the Irish carrier to start operations at Glasgow is expected to generate at least 850,000 new passengers and was welcomed by airport bosses.

An airport spokesman said: "We are delighted that Ryanair has demonstrated its commitment to Scotland's largest city by announcing a new base at Glasgow Airport."

City politicians and business leaders are also delighted.

Council leader Gordon Matheson said: "Ryanair's decision to operate seven new routes from Glasgow Airport is a further sign of the sustained confidence that operators have in our city's airport."

gordon.thomson@ eveningtimes.co.uk