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Prestwick Airport ‘does not make money’ from passenger services

Prestwick Airport
Prestwick Airport (Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

PASSENGER services at Prestwick Airport do not make any money, its chief executive has told MSPs.

Airport bosses faced tough questions from Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, with Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles branding the airport “unprofitable”.

Prestwick was taken into public ownership in 2013, with the Scottish Government buying the airport for £1 to save it from closure, and giving it around £40 million in loans since then.

MSPs were told if the government asked for the loans to be repaid the airport would be “wound up” but chiefs insisted it has a sustainable future.

Giving evidence to the committee, the airport’s chief executive Stewart Adams said an economic review of its services is being carried out.

“It’s clear that the passenger side of the business does not make money,” he said.

“Passenger numbers certainly need to increase but it is very difficult at the moment.”

Mr Rumbles said the airport made an operating loss of £25 million in the four years before being saved by the government and has made a loss of £24 million in the four years since.

He said: “It looks to me that the Scottish taxpayer will never get their money back from your airport, wouldn’t you agree?”

He continued: “This is an unprofitable company, it is throwing money after bad money. What would happen if the Scottish Government asks for the loan to be repaid?”

Prestwick Airport finance director Ian Forgie said: “The company would be wound up”.

He said the strategic plan is to return the business to profit, and analysis being carried out would help understand which parts made a profit and which make a loss.

Non-executive chairman Andrew Miller said the airport faces challenges but he believes it “can have a sustainable future”.