Boss of struggling Prestwick Airport ousted

Prestwick Airport. Picture: John Devlin
Prestwick Airport. Picture: John Devlin
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PRESTWICK Airport’s chief executive was today ousted as part of a “fundamental re-positioning” of the struggling Scottish Government-owned site.

New chairman Andrew Miller said Iain Cochrane was leaving because the changes “required new vision, leadership and expertise in the executive team”.

Mr Cochrane, who has been at the Ayrshire airport for 20 years, including five as chief executive, will go at the end of next month.

Chief commercial officer Graeme Sweenie will also depart - in two weeks’ time.

Mr Miller, who was appointed in November, said: “The future of Prestwick is likely to be quite different from the past.

“The business model needs to be both re-designed and delivered rapidly so the airport can look forward to a profitable, sustainable future.”

However, the Hamilton-born former Air New Zealand executive said there were no plans to reduce the workforce, which peaks at 310 in the summer.

Mr Miller said plans included trying to re-establish London flights, perhaps to City airport, with Flybe a possible carrier.

Ministers bought Prestwick in 2013 for £1 to save it from closure, but sole passenger airline Ryanair has cut flights since.

Losses doubled last year to £10 million and ministers have so far provided some £40m in loans.

Mr Miller said: “I firmly believe Prestwick can return to prosperity, but there needs to be a radical turnaround in the business in order to achieve that.

“The business can be fixed. I would not have taken it on otherwise.”

However, he said it would take around two years to “lessen the impact on the public purse” - and longer to get the airport back into profit.

He said both departing executives “have given Prestwick many years’ committed service.”

Mr Miller said recently-appointed non-executive directors would assist remaining managers until successors were found.

Mr Cochrane said: “It has been my huge privilege to lead this fantastic airport with its exceptional and committed staff, but it’s time for a change.”