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As Ryanair cancels flights...

Prestwick Airport ‘confident of sale’ in return to profit

Prestwick airport

On the up: the airport has seen a turnaround

Prestwick Airport’s state-backed management remain confident of concluding talks with a buyer despite the impact of the coronavirus on traffic.

Talks are continuing with an undisclosed preferred bidder as the Ayrshire airport reports a £3 million underlying operating profit following a £1 million loss in the previous year.

Revenue in the year to the end of March increased by 46% year-on-year to £36m against £24.6m.

The improvement came ahead of the lockdown which brought the aviation industry to a near-standstill. Prestwick did not provide an update on traffic and trading since its year end.

The announcement coincided with Ryanair planning to cut flight capacity across its operations by a fifth in September and October as travel restrictions to some European countries tighten.


Ryanair is cutting capacity

The airline said the decision came after forward bookings “notably weakened over the last 10 days” amid continued uncertainty over coronavirus case rates.

It said most of the cuts would mean reductions in the frequency of flights rather than route closures.

The Scottish Government has been seeking to sell Prestwick after taking it into public hands for £1 in 2013.

Stewart Adams, chief executive, said the development of new revenue opportunities coupled with measures to control costs and operational efficiencies helped improve the airport’s financial performance.

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But he said the coronavirus pandemic is posing new challenges.

“This performance underlines Glasgow Prestwick Airport’s enhanced status as a vital strategic provider of international freight and aviation services, and a major infrastructure asset which benefits the Scottish economy,” he said.

“While we were very much on an upward trajectory in terms of profitability before the global pandemic, it is inevitable that our future revenue and profits will be affected due to the impact of coronavirus.

“Even before the pandemic, our financial performance was hampered by declining passenger numbers and revenue.

“In turn, we do not expect passenger numbers to return to pre-coronavirus levels in the near future.”

The airport is owned by TS Prestwick Holdco, a private limited company wholly owned by the Scottish Government.

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Mr Adams said talks are continuing with the preferred bidder.

He said: “A preferred bidder was appointed as part of the sale process. Whilst talks… are continuing, it has been necessary to extend the timeframe for these discussions.

“Due to Glasgow Prestwick Airport’s importance to Scotland’s national infrastructure, we are confident that the business can be sold in due course.

“We will continue to investigate opportunities to further develop the business under its current ownership but also with an eye to future ownership as part of a markedly different global aviation industry.”

Since April, Glasgow Prestwick Airport and its specialist freight services have been involved in the welcoming and handling of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers in Scotland.

Andrew Miller non-executive chairman, said: “On behalf of the board, we thank Stewart and his management team for last year’s exceptional results.

“During Stewart’s three years as chief executive the business has made significant gains in the marketplace.”

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