Prestwick Airport: Calls to ban Israeli military from UK airspace after Scottish airport blocks air force flights

An Israeli Air Force plane landed at the publicly-owned airport in November 2023

A Scottish Green MSP is calling for all Israeli aircraft to be banned from UK airspace, after the Scottish Government said Prestwick Airport would no longer do business with the Israeli military.

An Israeli Air Force plane travelling between the US and Beersheba landed at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which is publicly-owned, in November last year.

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The Scottish Government has since said no further Israeli military flights will land at Prestwick.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Image: Robert Perry/Getty Images.Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Image: Robert Perry/Getty Images.
Glasgow Prestwick Airport. Image: Robert Perry/Getty Images.

Ross Greer, Green MSP for West Scotland, said it was “very wrong” for the airport to be used in this way.

He has now called on the UK hovernment to ban all Israeli aircraft from the airspace it has control over.

Mr Greer told the BBC: “The odds are this plane that landed in Prestwick has loaded with weapons to bomb schools, hospitals and homes.

"The death toll in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli military is at least 30,000 people, and that is probably an undercount because sadly thousands have been buried under rubble and are unaccounted for.

“It is important for people across the world to show solidarity with Gaza and important that we are in no way enabling this genocide. It is very wrong the airport was used in the first place and very good there will be no more use of Scotland’s publicly-owned airport by the Israeli air force.”

Mr Greer said the UK Government should step in on the matter as civil aviation airspace is reserved to Westminster.

He said: “Once the airport is sold, it would be outwith the powers of the Scottish Government. The UK government would absolutely have the power to ban Israeli military aircraft, regardless of who owns the airport.

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“The Scottish Government has a degree of power over that as the ultimate owners of Prestwick Airport, but the UK government has the power if it was sold to a private owner, and over all UK airspace.”

Mr Greer said Scottish Government ministers also needed to “apply much higher standards of human rights” when it comes to the Israel-Hamas war, and stressed companies identified by the United Nations as being “complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine” should not be given any public funds through contracts or grants.

This comes after the airport received nearly £70 million from the Pentagon over the past six years, and fulfilled more than 4,000 orders to refuel US armed flights since 2017.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Glasgow Prestwick Airport operates on a commercial basis and at arm’s-length from the Scottish Government.

“The Israeli Air Force does not and has never used the airport as a base.

“It has not visited Prestwick since November 2023 and the airport has since taken the independent decision not to conduct further business with the Israeli Air Force.”

Prestwick Airport chiefs told MSPs in December that debts of more than £50 million may not be repaid by the transport hub to the Scottish Government until the site is sold.

Loans of £43m to keep the South Ayrshire airport going after it was saved from closure by ministers ten years ago, plus interest of some £9m, remain outstanding.



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