Scottish government to pump £10 million into Prestwick

The Scottish government is to pump almost £10 million into Prestwick airport after buying it for £1.

The funding will go towards operating costs, a repairs backlog and to make improvements to the terminal building.

Scotland’s deputy first Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced told Holyrood’s infrastructure committee the airport would be operated under public ownership “on a commercial basis”.

But rival airports have voiced concerns about competition from publicly-subsidised Prestwick.

Sturgeon said the airport would operate as a public corporation on a commercial basis” at arms’ length from government.

She added that £5.5 million had been provided already since acquisition last year and the Scottish government would be required “to provide a further £3 million in operating support”.

There will be nearly £7 million in capital investment – £4.5 million for repairs and £2.4 million to make improvements to the terminal building, including refurbishment of the duty free area.

The Scottish government investment would be made “in the form of loan funding”.

Sturgeon added that there was “no quick fix solution for Prestwick” and the airport may not be profitable for several years, the BBC reported.

The airport had a pre-tax loss of £9.77 million in its final full year under previous owners Infratil.

Sturgeon rejected calls to rename it Robert Burns airport, saying this could cause confusion.

She described Prestwick as a “non-typical airport”, with only about half of its revenue dependant on passenger traffic.

Future revenue could come from freight and retail development, she suggested.

An Edinburgh airport spokesman said: “Scotland’s main airports create jobs and attract routes with no public subsidy and we believe that the market should not be distorted. Competition should be allowed to flourish.”

A statement from Glasgow airport said: “We have previously received assurances that Glasgow Airport will not be placed at a competitive disadvantage, but will continue to seek clarity on how the Scottish government intends to develop its asset.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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