The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Scottish Ministers enter talks to safeguard Prestwick Airport

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured below) has announced that the Scottish Government is entering into talks to safeguard around 1,400 jobs by bringing Prestwick Airport into public ownership.

Prestwick Airport has been on the market since March 2012. The Scottish Government, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and South Ayrshire Council, has been working with current owners Infratil to help find a private buyer.

Despite those efforts and interest from potential investors, the process has now reached a point where it’s clear that no private buyer will be able to take the purchase forward in an acceptable timescale to the current owner.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Prestwick Airport’s importance to the local Ayrshire and wider Scottish economy cannot be overstated – and it is vital that all efforts are made to keep the airport open.

“Around 300 people depend directly on the airport for employment and, in total, there are around 1,400 people whose jobs depend on or are associated with the airport.  Unemployment in Ayrshire is already above the Scottish average and the loss of Prestwick Airport would exacerbate this situation.

“Taking account of the aerospace cluster at Prestwick, there are a total of 3,200 jobs directly or indirectly associated with the airport.  Whilst the aerospace jobs are not directly dependent on the airport, it acts as an anchor for these businesses. It is undoubtedly the case that this important part of the Ayrshire economy would be less secure in the future without the continued operation of Prestwick Airport.

“Prestwick also has important resilience capabilities that provide alternative options to Glasgow and Edinburgh in the event of severe weather conditions.

“Today, I am announcing that the Scottish Government has advised the current owners Infratil of our intention to commence a process towards acquisition of Prestwick Airport.

“Over the next few weeks we will focus on due diligence, legal and commercial issues around public ownership and the development of a business plan that will allow Prestwick to thrive once again.  I want to stress to staff and passengers booked to fly from Prestwick that in the meantime it is business as usual at the airport.  The airport is, and will continue to be, open for business.

“Once a transaction has been completed, I will make a further statement to Parliament.

“With perseverance, patience and innovative thinking Prestwick can have a positive future as part of the wider Scottish aviation industry.”

Ministers are entering into negotiations with Infratil over the potential acquisition of Prestwick Aviation Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries, subject to the completion of due diligence and the appropriate legal processes.

During that process, Infratil would continue to operate the airport as a going concern to maintain its assets and keep it open for business.

Leader of South Ayrshire Council, Councillor Bill McIntosh (pictured above) said: “South Ayrshire Council warmly welcomes the Scottish Government's announcement today regarding Prestwick Airport.

“The Airport is critically important to the Ayrshire economy and to the Scottish economy. As well as passenger and freight flights, and pilot training, the airport also has fly-in, fly-out maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. The significance of the airport can be seen clearly by looking at its impact on jobs. 

“There are around 1,400 jobs at the airport and dependent on it. The aerospace companies clustered around the airport have a total of around 3,200 jobs. These jobs are high value and are estimated to result in total employment impact at the Scottish level of between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs.

“The Council looks forward to working closely with Scottish Government on securing a bright and sustainable future for Prestwick Airport.”

Marko Bogoievski, Chief Executive Officer at Infratil said: “In March 2012 Infratil announced its intention to sell its two UK airports, Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Manston Kent Airport as part of a process to refocus its investment profile.

“Recognising the importance of the airports to their local communities, Infratil’s preference has been to secure a new owner with the capacity to support their future success.

“We believe that a Scottish Government acquisition of Glasgow Prestwick Airport achieves that objective and will work proactively with the Scottish Government over the next six weeks towards achieving completion of a transaction.”

Adrian Gillespie, managing director of operations at Scottish Enterprise said: “Prestwick Airport is a vital part of both the local economy in Ayrshire and the wider Scottish economy, supporting a high number of jobs and businesses.

“We are committed to working closely with our partners to achieve a sustainable future for both the airport and all it delivers for our economy and our communities.”

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