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Prestwick Airport to be sold off by Scottish Government

The loss-making airport has racked up £50m of debt six years since its £1 buyout in 2013.

By STV News

Published 13 Jun 2019.

Prestwick Airport has been put up for sale by the Scottish Government six years after it bought it for just £1.

The loss-making airport has racked up almost £50m of debt with the government since it was taken into public ownership in 2013.

Passenger numbers have been dwindling, with budget airline Ryanair the only operator of scheduled flights to and from the Ayrshire airport.

Prestwick also handles chartered flights as well as military and freight transport.

A number of parties have expressed interest in buying Prestwick over the past 12 months, and ministers have ruled out selling off the land for housing or development, meaning it will remain an airport.

Industry experts believe the future of Prestwick lies in cargo, after the Scottish Government signed a memorandum of understanding with Heathrow which could make it a logistics hub for expansion at the UK's biggest airport.

Transport secretary 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."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the decision to buy Prestwick when she was economy secretary in a bid to prevent the airport's closure.

Ministers feared 1000 jobs would have been lost at Prestwick itself, on top of another 3000 more in the nearby aerospace business cluster.