MANAGEMENT at Prestwick Airport plan to return it to private ownership within the next five years, a report has revealed.
The Scottish Government stepped in to save the South Ayrshire airport from closure in November 2013, buying it for £1.
Initial estimates proposed £21.3 million of loans would be needed to keep the airport – officially known as Glasgow Prestwick Airport – going.
The figure rose to £39.6 million in a revised business plan published the following year.
The executive team has published its five-year strategic plan to 2022, stating it believes passenger numbers have “bottomed out” and are now rising, and losses are less severe than predicted.
The document was drawn up following the appointment of Ron Smith as chief executive officer in May 2016 and states the aim in the next five years is to “return the business to private ownership with a sustainable future as an airport”.
READ MORE FROM THE SUNDAY POST
Mr Smith said: “The picture for Glasgow Prestwick Airport is a positive one – we believe our passenger numbers have bottomed out and are on the up again, cargo income is consistent in spite of changes in the wider market, military income is growing, property occupancy are at an all-time high and early indications for the last financial year show that our losses are less than predicted.
“The turnaround will be challenging and will take time, but it has started and this plan will build upon this.
“The Scottish Government has always stated that they would like to return the business to the private sector and this is a fundamental pillar of our plan.
“We are working to make the business an attractive prospect for a private investor to come in and build upon this strategy – someone that can bring in additional funds to upgrade our infrastructure and facilities and attract even more business.
“If we are able to do this, we could speed up our turnaround.”
Airport chairman Andrew Miller said the plan sets out how to make Prestwick a “profitable and sustainable airport for generations to come”.
He added: “There has been a significant amount of analysis and research in establishing a sustainable business plan that has been challenged and improved throughout its development, and as a result we now have something that is realistic and realisable.”