Scotland business

Glasgow Prestwick Airport unveils plans to return to private hands

Prestwick airport has seen a drop in passengers since Ryanair started to operate from Glasgow
Image caption Prestwick airport has seen a drop in passengers since Ryanair started to operate from Glasgow

Glasgow Prestwick Airport has set out its aim to be returned to private ownership within the next five years.

The intention is spelled out in the airport's strategic plan, which has now been published.

The loss-making Ayrshire airport was bought by the Scottish government three years ago for £1.

The airport says passenger numbers have bottomed out and that its losses are less than predicted - but admits its turnaround will be challenging.

Image caption Prestwick was taken over by the Scottish government three years ago

This plan has been produced by the airport's executive team, following the appointment of Ron Smith as chief executive officer in May last year.

The plan sets out a number of key objectives, which include:

  • looking for ways to continually improve the experience of passengers and other customers
  • attracting investment.

The plan also highlights some of the airport's unique selling points which it believes could help it stand out from its rivals in Scotland and northern England.

These include having Scotland's longest commercial runway and parallel taxiway, and that it is the only airport in Scotland with a railway station on the site.

Image caption Glasgow Prestwick Airport has made a loss in recent years
Image caption The plan seeks to improve the passenger experience at Prestwick
Image caption Prestwick has Scotland's longest commercial runway

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 a 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 take time but it has started and this plan will build upon this."

Image caption Prestwick wants a spaceport licence to launch satellites into space

Andrew Miller, the airport's chairman, welcomed the launch of this plan.

He said: "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.

"This is a plan that the board is able to get behind and support."

And he added: "Glasgow Prestwick Airport is a vital contributor to the Ayrshire, Scottish and UK economy, it provides valuable employment and is an important national infrastructure asset.

Image caption Despite its name the airport is located 30 miles from Glasgow city centre

"This plan set out how we will also make it a profitable and sustainable airport for generations to come."

In its last full financial year, Prestwick handled 624,000 passengers and processed almost 11,500 tonnes of cargo.

However, 10 years ago - when budget airline Ryanair did not operate flights from Glasgow Airport - Prestwick handled about 2.5 million passengers a year.

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