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Published on Thursday, October 1, 2020

Prestwick Airport sale collapses due to pandemic






The future of Prestwick Airport is up in the air again after the preferred private sector bidder pulled out of talks.


The unnamed preferred bidder has blamed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation industry.


Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said the bidder now 'does not wish to complete the purchase.'


"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. Scottish ministers will reflect upon future options for the business," he said.


The company's identity has never been publically disclosed, although The Scotsman reported it was AGS Airports, which is the owner of Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.


The loss-making airport was taken into public ownership in 2013 for the nominal fee of £1 to save it from closing down.


The Scottish government announced last year its intention to sell the airport.


 "We will now consider future options for Glasgow Prestwick Airport in light of this development, as well as the on-going challenges for the industry, but remain confident it has a role to play in Scotland's aviation sector," Matheson said.


Scottish Conservative Transport Spokesman Graham Simpson said the collapse of the sale is not surprising, given the current situation.


"Scotland's airports are in crisis as a result of the pandemic. The SNP government urgently needs to come up with a rescue plan for the entire aviation sector," Simpson said.


"They should start by allowing testing at airports in order to move towards a reduced quarantine period for passengers."


Matheson said the airport had increased revenue and reduced operating costs before the pandemic, although since coming into public ownership it has racked up debt owed to the Scottish government of more than £38 million.


 


Written by Ray Montgomery, US Editor

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