Ministers offload facility
Prestwick Airport to be sold by Scottish Government
Prestwick: only one airline operates scheduled flights
Prestwick Airport’s future has been thrown into doubt after the Scottish Government announced it was selling the facility.
The airport was taken into public ownership in November 2013, safeguarding jobs directly and indirectly linked to the airport. The government claimed it was “protecting a strategic asset” while critics said it was throwing money at a white elephant. It has run up almost £50million of debt since it was bought for just £1.
Passenger numbers have been falling, with budget airline Ryanair the only operator of scheduled flights.
An advert will be placed in the Official Journal of the European Union, inviting expression of interest in the business in the hope of attracting a buyer.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “Since the Scottish Government bought Glasgow Prestwick Airport in 2013, we have been clear that it is our intention to return the business to the private sector when the time is right.
“The senior management team at the airport has continued to engage with potential buyers and investors to discuss proposals for developing the business under new ownership.
“Good progress continues to be made by the airport to increase revenue, deliver operating efficiencies and pursue exciting opportunities for the future, including Spaceport.
“In light of that progress, the airport will shortly place an advert in the Official Journal of the European Union inviting expressions of interest. Any proposals submitted as a result of the advert would be considered carefully before any decision was taken to divest our shareholding in the airport or any part of the business.”
John Scott, Conservative MSP for Ayr said: “It is good news that Prestwick Airport is now being actively marketed for sale and I hope that a buyer can be secured at the earliest opportunity.
“Despite the problems the airport has faced over recent years, and the need for it to be taken over by the government in 2013, I have always firmly believed that it has the potential for a bright future.
“Prestwick has all the foundations for success; the longest commercial runway and parallel taxiway in Scotland, a reputation of being Britain’s only fog-free airport, its own dedicated railway station and a thriving aerospace campus.
“What it now needs is an owner prepared to put in the investment to take the airport forward as the major economic asset it undoubtedly is.”
Scottish Labour’s Transport and Infrastructure Spokesperson and South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “The government were far too slow in making the changes needed to turn Prestwick around when they bought it and as a result it’s doubtful they will get back the £50 million they have put in.
“However, the Government cannot simply wash its hands of Prestwick. They have a responsibility to ensure that if a buyer is actually found, any sale must secure the jobs at Prestwick. Anything else would be an economic tsunami for Ayrshire and beyond.”