Concern over taxpayer support

Prestwick airport funding ‘out of control’

Prestwick AirportSupport from the taxpayer for Prestwick Airport could reach £40 million next year amid concerns that it is failing to secure a sustainable future in the private sector.

It was not expected to hit this level of funding until 2021 but could reach this target in the next financial year.

The Scottish Government bought the Ayrshire facility three years ago and hopes it can have a future as a space port.

Conservative North-East MSP Liam Kerr said: “These figures are further evidence that the costs regarding Prestwick Airport are starting to get out of control.

“The amount of public money being sunk into the airport is spiralling and taxpayers are getting increasingly fed up.

“It’s time the SNP government got a grip of the situation and started putting plans in place to return the airport to the private sector as soon as possible.”

Accounts show Prestwick received £21.3m in loans up to 31 March. The draft 2017/18 budget shows it receiving £9.3m and it is in line for another £9.4m the following year.

Repayments on the loans are not scheduled to begin until the airport starts making a profit, which is expected to be in 2023.

The airport is hugely dependent on budget carrier Ryanair which put pressure on the facility when it opened a base at Glasgow Airport two years ago.

Audit Scotland last year declared that Scottish government forecasts of 10.2% passenger growth over five years was optimistic.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our investment in the airport is on a commercial basis, in the form of loan funding. This attracts a market rate of interest in line with state aid rules.

“A report from Audit Scotland confirmed that we are highly likely to generate a return on our investment that is higher than the current rate of interest we are charging the airport.

“We have not set a limit on the overall loan funding we may have to provide to the airport. We plan to approve the amount of loan funding required in any one year through the approval of the airport’s business plan for that year.”

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