The planned sale of Prestwick Airport has been grounded after the preferred bidder pulled out.
On Wednesday, transport secretary Michael Matheson confirmed the prospective buyer has walked away from completing a deal due to the impact of coronavirus on the aviation industry.
He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the aviation sector globally and, unfortunately, it has now affected the planned sale process of Glasgow Prestwick Airport.
“We have been advised that the company selected as preferred bidder does not wish to complete the purchase of the business at this time.
“While this is a disappointing development, we understand businesses across the aviation sector are having to take difficult decisions to respond to the collapse in demand.”
The South Ayrshire airport was taken into public ownership in November 2013, after being threatened with closure following heavy losses.
The Scottish Government paid a token £1 for the airport, which has since cost taxpayers tens of millions of pounds in failed loans.
Talks with the prospective buyer began in late 2019 after it was put up for sale last June.
Matheson said ministers would now “consider future options”, but is “confident” the airport has a role to play in Scotland’s aviation sector.
He said: “It’s important to remember that Glasgow Prestwick Airport continues to develop as a specialist airport, carving a niche in a very competitive market.
“The recent financial results – showing an increase revenue and reduction in operating losses – are encouraging and underline the significant efforts of the Prestwick team.
“We will now consider future options for Glasgow Prestwick Airport in light of this development, as well as the ongoing challenges for the industry, but remain confident it has a role to play in Scotland’s aviation sector.
“As we have done throughout this process, we will update Parliament at the appropriate times.
“More widely, we remain committed to working with all of Scotland’s airports to help restore connectivity for business and tourism to help our economy recover”.