Glasgow Airport fears raised over Prestwick deal

A business group is concerned about the impact public ownership of Glasgow Prestwick Airport may have on nearby Glasgow international.

Passengers in Preswtick Airport, which has been bought by the Scottish Government for one pound. Picture: Robert Perry
Passengers in Preswtick Airport, which has been bought by the Scottish Government for one pound. Picture: Robert Perry

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick wants answers from the Scottish Government, which bought the South Ayrshire airport for £1.

He raised three key issues in a letter to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, covering the impact on air route marketing, plans to improve access to Glasgow Airport and what impact the purchase will have on the sharing of sensitive information with Scottish Government ministers.

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“In buying Glasgow Prestwick Airport, the Scottish ministers now have a direct stake in the performance of the airport industry in the central belt of Scotland,” he wrote.

“We are concerned that this may have detrimental effects on the performance of Glasgow International Airport.”

The Prestwick deal was completed at the weekend, six weeks after the Scottish Government announced plans to secure its future. The loss-making airport was bought from New Zealand company Infratil.

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

Although broadly welcomed by political parties at Holyrood, some concern was raised by Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson.

He said: “While I’ve said that I support efforts to save jobs at Prestwick, I’m still unclear how the Scottish Government can build a sound business case for Prestwick as a passenger airport without skewing the market at Glasgow’s expense.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “Investment by the Scottish Government will be undertaken on a commercial basis. There will be no ongoing subsidy of the airport’s operations and we expect investment to generate a long term return for taxpayers’ money.

“This investment will help ensure the continuation of robust competition between airports in Scotland and not at the expense of it.

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“We are happy to meet with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. We have already met with Glasgow Airport and will continue to hold our regular talks with airport partners as our plans for the future of Glasgow Prestwick Airport progress.

“We believe that there is a place for Glasgow Prestwick in the evolving and increasingly competitive Scottish aviation market and as an airport serving Ayrshire and other parts of the west of Scotland.”