Tom Wilson, who was for seven years the chief executive of the UK's Glasgow Prestwick International airport in Scotland, talks about his time in the aviation industry and his ambitions in the field of children's literature.

During his seven years at the helm at Glasgow Prestwick airport, Tom Wilson oversaw the transformation of the airport from a peripheral, struggling facility into a thriving international hub with more than a dozen scheduled international connections.

He is now managing director of his own company, Viscount Aviation, which provides a range of aviation services and is handling interim management at two airports owned by Infratil - Hamburg Lübeck and Kent International, formerly known as Manston.

Wilson: now at the helm of Viscount Aviation - and would-be author

How did you get started in the industry?

In 1992 I was working as an electrical engineer in the computer industry for a company based in Troon, not far from Prestwick. Around that time, the local Member of Parliament George Younger led a buyout of the airport from BAA to retain it as an operational airport.

I saw this was happening and decided I wanted to be a part of the new operation, so I got in touch with him, explained that I lived locally and it all happened from there. I joined as engineering director as one of 100 or so new staff, along with around 50 who had worked at Prestwick under the previous management. Then in 1997 I became managing director and held that post for seven years.

What were the main changes that occurred at Prestwick during your time there?

When I joined Prestwick, there were no scheduled passenger flights until Ryanair started a double-daily Dublin service in 1994 - the first low-cost service in Scotland. That was followed by the first low-cost route to London Stansted in 1995, and then the first international low-cost route to Paris in 1998. We had 17 direct connections when I left in 2004, and the airport has kept growing since then. During the same period, freight throughput rose from about 12,000t to 40,000t and direct employment exceeded 500 staff.

What have you been doing since you left Prestwick?

Since 2004 I have run my own business providing services to and advising both public and private sector clients on business development and passenger freight, among other things.

I was also involved in Infratil's acquisition of Lübeck in 2005. I am currently providing interim management there and at Kent Manston until full-time replacements are appointed.

How do you like to relax away from the job?

I have a boat, which I enjoy taking out in the Firth of Clyde I'd like to get out round the Mull of Kintyre sometime soon. I have also brought together my interests in sailing and flying in a children's book I have written, for which I am currently seeking a publisher.

It came from a note I wrote to my younger son, pretending to be the tooth fairy. My wife read it and said I should write more, so I've written a story about a fairy who works for a strange emperor.

Lübeck profile

  • Handles around 700,000 passengers annually
  • About 9km (5.5 miles) south of the city of Lübeck, northern Germany.

Kent International profile

  • Annual tonnage about 35,000t, with rapid growth in 2006
  • Summer charter services
  • Roughly 110km south-east of London.

Source: Flight International