Friday, 18 October 2013

Prestwick Airport taken into public ownership

Local MSP Margaret Burgess has welcomed the SNP Scottish Government’s move to take Prestwick Airport into public ownership.

The Scottish Government acted, alongside North Ayrshire Council and the area’s two other local authorities, when it seemed like the airport could close.  The facility’s New Zealand owners had failed to find a buyer after putting it up for sale 18 months ago.

Prestwick Airport last year generated £61.6million for the Scottish economy, mainly by catering for holidaymakers using budget airline Ryanair.  However, it has recently suffered a drop in passenger numbers and cargo contracts.

Announcing the public sector move to save the airport, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “We believe Prestwick Airport can have a positive future.  It will require investment and it will take time.  However, we believe it can be returned to profitability.  We also estimate the cost of closure to the public purse would be very significant and this is an important factor in our decision.”

It is understood North Ayrshire Council, South Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Council have jointly committed £6million towards saving the airport.  The completion of the sale to the Scottish Government is expected to take around six weeks.

Cunninghame South MSP Margaret Burgess said, “Around 300 people depend on the airport directly for employment, with a further 460 jobs in maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, but if you include the important aerospace cluster at Prestwick, more than 3,000 jobs are directly or indirectly associated with the airport.”

The SNP MSP said the impact of closure for employees and families would have been “devastating”, adding, “The Scottish Government was not prepared to countenance this damage to the Ayrshire economy.”

The move by the SNP Scottish Government was supported by Central Ayrshire Labour MP Brian Donohoe, who said, “This is a development which I welcome and we need now to ensure concentration is steered towards new routes and new airlines coming into the airport.”

Nicola Sturgeon hinted that Prestwick Airport’s controversial slogan - Pure Dead Brilliant - could be scrapped as part of possible rebranding.

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