Preferred bidder chosen to take over Prestwick Airport

The potential sale follows the collapse of a previous attempt to sell the South Ayrshire airport in 2020.

Preferred bidder chosen to take over Prestwick Airport Getty Images

A preferred bidder for the sale of Prestwick Airport has been found. 

It follows the collapse of a previous attempt to sell the South Ayrshire airport in 2020, after a would-be buyer pulled out of a deal in September. 

Prestwick 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.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson confirmed a preferred bidder for the airport had been found.

In a letter to a parliament committee, he said: “We remain satisfied that good progress is being made in the interests of the business.”

The identity of the bidder has not yet been revealed. 

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “This is positive news and the hope is that it will not prove another false dawn for Prestwick Airport.

“With restrictions set to continue for some time to come on the aviation sector, the need for SNP ministers to conclude a successful sale is urgent.

“Too much taxpayers money has been lost as a result of the SNP’s mismanagement of Prestwick Airport. We must hear if those millions are going to be recovered as part of the sale process.

“We must also see the transport secretary outline a long-term plan to protect Prestwick and our wider aviation sector in Scotland which is currently in crisis.”

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “It is vital that any deal to sell Prestwick Airport must include a clear commitment from the buyer to retain and grow jobs at the airport, which are vital to the economy of Ayrshire.  

“Any deal should also have a clear plan showing how the taxpayer will get back the tens of millions of pounds loaned to the airport from the public purse.  

“We must not allow a cut-price sale for the sake of the SNP government washing its hands of the airport unless it gives the taxpayer value for money.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats transport spokeswoman Carole Ford said: “I hope that new owners can rejuvenate the airport and ensure that it escapes its controversial reliance on the US military for custom.

“Having bought the airport for a pound, it is not good enough for ministers to sell for £2 and call that a profit. Prestwick airport has been kept alive with more than £43m of taxpayer’s cash, the transport secretary needs to be transparent about how much of that investment will be repaid.

“Too often scrutiny of the airport’s finances has been met with evasion. The public deserve a proper accounting from the transport secretary.”

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