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Prestwick Airport acquired for £1 - Sturgeon

Prestwick Airport is now in public ownership, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed. Picture: Robert Perry

Prestwick Airport is now in public ownership, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed. Picture: Robert Perry

Glasgow Prestwick Airport is now in public ownership after it was bought by the Scottish Government for £1.

It is understood the deal to acquire the site from previous owner Infratil was completed late last night.

Confirmation of completion of the deal comes about six weeks after the Scottish Government’s plans to acquire the South Ayrshire base, to secure its future, were announced at Holyrood by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She told the Scottish Parliament at that stage that Infratil had estimated the total annual losses to be in the region of £7 million.

Announcing the development today, Ms Sturgeon said: “With this deal concluded, we can now focus on the future of Glasgow Prestwick Airport and making it the success we know it can be.

“This acquisition secures continuity of service and we will now begin work, with our local partners, on developing our vision for the business so we can maximise its contribution to the local, regional and national economy.

“As we stressed at the start of this process, Glasgow Prestwick Airport remains fully open for business and existing staff remain employed at the airport.

“Senior advisory staff will be appointed on an interim basis to make recommendations on strategic business development, building on the commercial opportunities identified during the acquisition process, and on longer-term management arrangements.

“I will make a statement to Parliament in due course to set out our plans in more detail.”

Acquisition

The Scottish Government said the acquisition of subsidiary company Prestwick Aviation Holdings Limited and associated companies from Infratil was made for a “nominal consideration” of £1.

The deal was made on commercial terms, with the purchase price reflecting the ongoing investment requirements at the airport, ministers said.

The Scottish Government said it now expects to engage a commercial partner to operate the airport on its behalf, in conjunction with existing staff.

Announcing the acquisition plan in October, Ms Sturgeon said the airport had been offered for sale by its New Zealand-based owner since March last year.

Private investors had shown interest but none was able to commit on a timescale acceptable to Infratil.

She told MSPs that closing the airport would be a “serious and unwelcome development.”

About 300 people depend directly on the airport for employment, with 1,400 associated with the facility. A wider ‘’aerospace cluster’’ at Prestwick supports about 3,200 jobs.

“We believe Prestwick Airport can have a positive future,’’ the Deputy First Minister told MSPs at the time.

“It will require investment and it will take time. However, we believe it can be returned to profitability. We also estimate that the cost of closure to the public purse would be very significant and this is an important factor in our decision.”

She also told Holyrood the airport has faced “many challenges” in recent years, with reduced passenger numbers and freight, but said it helped bring in about £47.6 million to the economy of Ayrshire and about £61.6 million across Scotland last year.

Reacting to the development announced today, Infratil chief executive Marko Bogoievski said: “Recognising the importance of the airport to the local communities and regional and national economy, Infratil’s preference has always been to secure a new owner with the capacity to support the future success of Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

“We believe that a Scottish Government acquisition achieves that objective and Infratil Limited is very pleased to have successfully completed the transaction.”

Prestwick is Scotland’s only airport with a rail connection. It is about 45 minutes away from Glasgow.

 

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