Prestwick Airport News

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Company lined up to buy Prestwick Airport pulls out of deal

30 September 2020

The Scottish government bought Prestwick Airport for £1 in November 2013 after its former owner, Infratil, earmarked it for closure following heavy losses.  Ministers said at the time that the deal would help protect the airport and safeguard thousands of direct and indirect jobs.  The government has since invested tens of millions of pounds in an effort to turn around its fortunes, including applying to carry out horizontal space launches from its 2,986-metre concrete case runway.   Ryanair remains the only scheduled passenger carrier at Prestwick but the airport is also used for transatlantic freight and for fuel stops.

Coronavirus in Scotland: Talks to sell Prestwick Airport delayed as industry flounders

4th May 2020

Efforts to sell Prestwick Airport have been stymied by coronavirus with the time frame for talks with a potential buyer extended in a bid to conclude the sale.  Michael Matheson, the transport secretary, announced in December that negotiations had started with an unnamed preferred bidder to take the Ayrshire airport back into private hands. The identity of the potential bidder has not been revealed, although it is strongly suspected to be AGS Airports, which also runs Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports.

It has now been confirmed that the collapse in the global aviation sector has meant the schedule for discussions on the sale has been extended.  The Scottish government paid a token £1 for Prestwick in November 2013 after Infratil, an infrastructure investment group that bought into the site in 2001, failed to find a buyer on the open market.

Prestwick Airport’s government debt rises to £38.4m

The debt owed by Prestwick Airport to the Scottish government has risen in the past year from £30m to £38.4m. That was while revenue rose through a doubling of income from refuelling aircraft.  Accounts show the holding company made a loss of £7.6m in the year to March, down from £8.6m the previous year. Revenue was up on the year from £13.6m to £18.2m – which includes £3m extra contribution from refuelling, and a rise of £300,000 in cargo earnings, reaching £2.8m. The debt reflects recent years of losses that have built up since Prestwick was saved from closure by a Scottish government takeover.  It has tried to add new routes, by business development activity and incentives through lowered landing fees – but this has resulted in only one additional route to Poland. The strategic report, filed with the accounts on 31 December, says that Brexit uncertainty has contributed to the difficulty of expanding the route network beyond Ryanair’s few flights.

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Prestwick airport costs escalating

By Jeremy Watson (Times)
October 9 2017

Prestwick airport sucked in an additional £9.6 million of public money last year to keep it afloat, according to new figures.  The total amount of taxpayers’ money given to the Ayrshire airport rose by more than 45%cent in that period from £21.3 million to £30.9 million. The Scottish government’s latest consolidated accounts reveal the amounts, which coincided with a financial year in which the business posted further losses of £9 million.   Total losses for the airport in the past three financial years amount to £27.6 million. Bought for a nominal sum by the SNP government in November 2013, it is costing taxpayers almost £800,000 a month.

The most recent business plan expects total loans to reach £39.6 million by 2021 — almost double the initial estimate of £21.3 million — but most industry observers believe that additional funding will be required to keep the airport open until that date.

Murdo Fraser, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, condemned the losses and increased cost to taxpayers. “Prestwick airport should not be a black hole into which the SNP government continues to plough taxpayers’ money,” he said.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The funding given to Glasgow Prestwick airport is supporting employment that is vital to the local economy. As we made very clear at the start of the acquisition process, our investment in the airport is on a commercial basis in the form of loan funding. This attracts a market rate of interest in line with state aid rules.”

Prestwick hopes of becoming a “spaceport” boosted by deal with US company

The Scottish Government bought the loss-making airport for £1 in 2013, and is trying to find ways for it to make money. Prestwick now has hopes of becoming a “space hub” delivering small satellites and tourists into low-level orbit. The Scottish Government will provide a funding package, for 2 years, of £240,000 from South Ayrshire Council and Scottish Enterprise. This will cover “infrastructure, business development, energy reduction and supply chain development.” The Queen’s Speech in May confirmed aims to drive through the complex legislation needed to certify the safe operation of space vehicles through the Modern Transport Bill. The DfT is setting up a regulatory framework to license individual sites, with Prestwick and two other Scottish locations – Campbeltown on the west coast and Stornoway in the Western Isles – among those short-listed last year. There are hopes of jobs, if the project goes ahead. Prestwick has now signed a memorandum of understanding with California-based space launch vehicle designer XCOR Aerospace, and space plane design and operating company Orbital Access Limited, setting out an action plan. This would be a competitor to the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital passenger flights, taking 2 passengers at a time into an orbit of 350,000 feet for a short time, at immense cost

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Prestwick Airport taxpayer bailout doubles to £40 million by 2021/22

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of covering up the true cost to the taxpayer of buying Prestwick Airport after she kept secret the existence of a new estimate predicting it would almost double to £40 million. An Audit Scotland investigation into the purchase found that a revised business plan produced in May last year forecast that public loans to loss-making Prestwick would reach £39.6 million by 2021/22. Ms Sturgeon did not tell MSPs that the predicted cost had increased from the original estimate of £21.3 million when she gave evidence to a Holyrood inquiry the following month. She also did not reveal that the passenger forecasts for the first 5 years had been dramatically cut. Labour are complaining about the handling of the airport problem by the SNP. Prestwick was losing £800,000 per month, and passenger numbers had more than halved to 1.1 million between 2007 and 2013. It was on the market for 18 months but no private buyer emerged. The Scottish government bought it for £1 hoping to protect 3,200 jobs and safeguard a “strategic” asset. So far the government has handed over £9 million and have committed to provide a further £16.2 million by the end of March 2016.

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Prestwick still set on role as UK spaceport despite Virgin Galactic flight catastrophe

The UK Government has said the Virgin Galactic crash will not hinder efforts to establish Europe’s first commercial spaceport in the UK, with a likely base in Scotland. SpaceShipTwo broke apart shortly after being released at altitude on 31st October, providing another setback for Richard Branson’s plans. The problem appears to be in the form of rocket used, with nitrous oxide fuel – about which there had been many previous safety warning. One pilot was killed and the other badly injured. Ailing Prestwick airport seems desperate to cling to any available straw, so hence the hope of economic resurgence by becoming a spaceport. Prestwick was shortlisted in July 2014 among 8 potential sites – 6 in Scotland – to locate a launchpad for sub-orbital tourist flights. The plan is ultimately, if anyone wants to risk their lives, for “holidaymakers” to cross the Atlantic from Scotland to New York in around 45 minutes. The latest setback raises more questions about the viability of commercial spaceflight. And that ignores its desirablilty … as about the highest carbon, unnecessary, activity humans could indulge in.

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Ryanair cuts Prestwick flights by a third and moves them to Glasgow

29 August 2014

Ryanair will operate 16 routes from Prestwick next summer, compared to its current 24 routes. This comes after Ryanair halved its winter schedule at Prestwick (taxpayer-owned), relocating most services to Glasgow. Michael O’Leary said (whatever it means) that Ryanair remained “heavily committed” to Prestwick, where it stations 3 aircraft and operates a major maintenance site. Ryanair will soon launch its winter schedule from Glasgow, its newest Scottish base, in October with 7 services (Dublin, Stansted, Derry, Riga, Warsaw Modlin, Wroclaw, and Bydgoszcz). Ryanair’s summer 2015 schedule will add 2 more routes (all holiday places).  There will also be 32 destinations from Edinburgh, including one new route to Stansted.

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8 sites shortlisted for UK’s first commercial spaceport – Newquay, Llanbedr + 6 in Scotland including Prestwick

At the Farnborough Air Show, plans to build a dedicated launch facility were unveiled. The UK government has expressed its enthusiasm for this unlikely project. Of the sites revealed by he CAA, one site is in England, at Newquay. One site is in Wales at Llanbedr airport in Snowdonia national park. The other six are in Scotland: Campbeltown airport; Prestwick airport; Kinloss barracks; RAF Lossiemouth; RAF Leuchars and Stornoway airport on the Isle of Lewis. Publication of the shortlist has led to a scramble among the sites to win government backing. The Scottish government in keen on the idea, for the kudos of being seen to be a space nation. Operators now enter three months of consultation before the decision is made.The airports considered have to have long runways and have airspace that can be easily segregated to allow spaceplane flights to operate alongside normal aviation. Sites have to be remote from population, on the coast to minimise the risks from “down-range abnormal occurrences” – meaning spaceplanes crashing or bits falling off. Space travel is the highest carbon activity known to man; worse even than Formula One racing or using private jets.

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Ryanair to move 7 routes from Preswick to Glasgow airport, only leaving 7

Glasgow will be Ryanair’s 3rd Scottish base, alongside Prestwick and Edinburgh. Ryanair has confirmed it is to start flying from Glasgow in October, with the launch of 7 routes. It would operate 55 flights a week out of Glasgow from October as part of what it said was a £260m investment in Scotland, and hoped to bring an additional 850,000 passengers through Glasgow airport each year. Ryanair will continue operating from the publicly-owned Prestwick and has stressed its commitment to it, but some Ryanair destinations, including Dublin, would move from Prestwick to Glasgow. Ryanair is also to launch a new Stansted service from Edinburgh. The airline is the sole remaining scheduled passenger carrier at Prestwick, which was bought by the Scottish government for £1 last year. Ryanair will continue to fly on 7 routes from the Prestwick over the winter months. Only about half of Prestwick’s revenue is dependent on passenger traffic. Ryanair keeps its maintenance facility at Prestwick.

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Scottish government outlines nearly £10m of public funding for failing Prestwick airport

The Scottish government bought Prestwick from Infratil for £1 in November 2013. Now Prestwick is to receive nearly £10 million of investment from the Scottish government. It will go towards operating costs, a repairs and maintenance backlog and to make improvements to the terminal building. The airport has lost nearly £10 million in 2013. It was announced towards the end of May that a taxpayer-funded report on the future viability of Prestwick would not be published, to protect commercially confidential information. This has led to accusations that ministers are expecting “blind faith” from the public and “keeping taxpayers in the dark” on spending public money. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said £5.5m had been provided already since acquisition and the Scottish government would be required “to provide a further £3m in operating support”. There will be nearly £7m in capital investment – £4.5m for repairs and £2.4m to make improvements to the terminal building.. Future revenue could come from freight and retail development. Future revenue may come from freight and retail development

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Report on financial viability of Prestwick Airport to be kept confidential by government

A taxpayer-funded report on the future viability of Prestwick Airport will not be published, to protect commercially confidential information, despite at least £5 million of public money having been pledged to ensure its survival. This has led to accusations that ministers are expecting “blind faith” from the public when it comes to justifying spending taxpayers’ money. The report follows a review that took 3 months. The airport has been losing millions of pounds under its previous owners. Although the full document is being withheld, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to report key findings to the parliament’s Infrastructure Committee in June. The Scottish Government bought Prestwick for £1 in November 2013. Labour’s infrastructure spokesman has said it was unacceptable for the report to be kept secret, and the public deserves to know how the £5 million will be repaid. The CEO of Edinburgh Airport, Gordon Dewar has claimed Government ownership of Prestwick was distorting competition in the Central Belt of Scotland. . Glasgow Airport chiefs are also said to be uneasy over the arrangement. Prestwick lost £9.7 million last year.

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Prestwick Airport reveals spiralling losses – almost £10 million in 2013

March 7, 2014

The full scale of Prestwick Airport’s financial problems are revealed in the latest accounts, which show a pre-tax loss of almost £10 million in its final full year of private ownership. Its financial problems have escalated with a pre-tax loss of £9.77m in the 12 months to March 31, 2013. The airport made a £2.3m pre-tax loss in the year to March 2012. Last March its owners, Infratil, put the airport up for sale, but as no buyer could be found, the Scottish Government stepped in and bought Prestwick for a £1 on November 22 2013. Prestwick had a 20% fall in the number of passengers in July 2012 compared to the same month in 2011 – the busiest time of the year with the school holidays. The airport’s accounts state that Prestwick is only a going concern if its owner is willing to continue funding deficits. Such an undertaking has been made by Transport Scotland on behalf of Scottish ministers ie. public subsidy. Only Ryanair is operating scheduled flights, and a significant percentage of the airport’s aviation revenue is derived from freight and other aircraft activity.

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Prestwick Airport to be sold to Scottish Government for £1 – and other failing regional airports look to business parks and housing


Infratil, which currently owns Prestwick Airport, has said the airport is expected to be sold to the Scottish Government for £1.  The sale is due to be completed by Wednesday, 20 November. Infratil said the airport’s value had been “fully impaired” – effectively written off – after Prestwick and sister airport Manston in Kent were collectively valued at £11 million in March.  Infratil bought Prestwick from Stagecoach in 2001 for £33m.  Manston is being sold to Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag for an expected £400,000. Scottish Ministers are taking over Prestwick airport, which is losing £7m a year, to avert its closure and safeguard 1,400 jobs, including 300 at the airport. Infratil described its investment in the airports to have been “unsuccessful for Infratil” and that while such regional airports looked like a good investment 5 years ago, they now are not as  they are reliant on “robust air traffic growth driving demand.” Other failing airports are looking to  create business parks on their land, and housing – to try and make money out of them.                        

Glasgow Prestwick Airport may be given to the Scottish Government for nothing

October 11, 2013       The owners of Glasgow Prestwick, New Zealand company Infratil, have suggested they may give away the airport for nothing. The Scottish government has announced it is negotiating to buy the unprofitable airport, and hopes to conclude detailed negotiations with the company by 20 November. Scottish government said it was the “only realistic alternative to closure”. In a statement on its website, the company said it did not expect any transaction “to give rise to material proceeds”. Prestwick was put up for sale last March after heavy annual losses. Several investors expressed interest but no offers were made. Infratil has also been trying to sell its other unprofitable UK airport, Manston. In May 2013, Infratil announced that it had written down the value of both airports to £11m. Infratil has agreed to ensure the airport is kept fully open and operational during the negotiation process. In 2012 Prestwick had around 1 million passengers, compared to 2.4 million at its peak in 2005.      Click here to view full story…


Ryanair’s new routes help lift the gloom at Prestwick

5.12.2012    Prestwick  – currently up for sale – has welcomed the extra Ryanair flights, which will launch next year. As Ryanair announced the services to 2 Polish airports, it said a move to Glasgow International Airport had been ruled out. The airline also unveiled six new routes from Edinburgh. Tom Wilson, chief executive of Prestwick’s owners, Infratil Airports Europe, said it would help reassure potential investors about the future of the airport.  Ryanair is planning to increase the frequency of its existing services at both Edinburgh and Prestwick and reverse two years of decline in which passenger numbers have fallen by 18%. Prestwick will see new routes to Rzeszow and Warsaw Modlin, taking the total to 27 routes and increasing the number of weekly flights from 86 to 95.  Click here to view full story …..

Price of Prestwick and Manston slashed to just over one fifth the price Infratil paid for them in 2003 and 2005

November 10, 2012    The value of Prestwick Airport has fallen to under a quarter of its level 2 years ago as owner Infratil struggles to find a buyer. The New Zealand-based company yesterday put the value of Prestwick and Manston Airport in Kent at £10.5 million. They had been valued at £32m earlier this year. Infratil bought it for £33.4m in 2003. A valuation carried out at the end of the financial year in March 2011 said the airports were worth £44m. Both airports were put on the market in January when Infratil said they were under-performing. It had been hoped a sale would be completed by early next year but no buyer is forthcoming. Passenger numbers at Prestwick have dropped to just under 1.1 million a year – less than half the level of 3 years ago – as Ryanair, which provides the bulk of passenger flights, has relocated many services to Edinburgh. The lack of investment has left Prestwick looking tired and off-putting to potential buyers.   Click here to view full story…



MP raises Prestwick Airport investment fears

September 25, 2012  Local MP, Brian Donohue, has complained that a lack of investment in Prestwick Airport by its New Zealand-based owner Infratil is damaging prospects of a sale and jeopardising its future. Upkeep at the airport had suffered following Infratil’s decision to put it on the market in March 2012 – and there is no progress yet on selling it. Numbers of passengers and freight at Prestwick have fallen markedly in recent years. Infratil said: “The reality is that when a business is for sale, the current shareholder is unlikely to spend any more than they need to.” Passengers were down 47% in 2011 compared to the peak in 2007, and freight was 71% down in 2011 compared to its peak in 2000.    Click here to view full story…


Passenger downturn prompts slump in Prestwick airport’s valuation

May 17, 2012    Passenger numbers at Prestwick in 2011 half the level of 2007. There were 1.2 million passengers in 2011. This fall in passengers has greatly reduced the price of the airport, which Infratil is trying to sell. Financial figures put the value of Prestwick and Kent Manston airports at £33 million ($64.7 million), down from £44m a year ago. Prestwick and Manston contributed an after-tax loss of $37.4 million (£17.9 million) in the year. Both airports were put on the market in March after Infratil said they were not performing. A buyer has yet to be identified for Prestwick. One reason for the slump of passenger numbers to the lowest level in a decade is the decision by Ryanair to focus growth at Edinburgh airport. Aviation analysts have questioned whether Prestwick would be able to recover from the decline that began late in 2008. It has long been reliant almost entirely on services offered by Ryanair.     Click here to view full story…


Warning Prestwick will find it difficult to expand

15.3.2012  The airport will find it difficult to attract new airlines to boost passenger services after being sold, according to the man who oversaw its sale. John Baillie, operations director at aviation consultancy MPD Group, said the Ayrshire airport needed to expand its route network and become less dependent on Ryanair to reverse the decline that has seen it lose a million passengers over the past four years.  But he said any bidders interested in buying the airport after it was put on the market last week would recognise this would be “extremely difficult”.

“There are many more airports than airlines. The airport is likely to fetch less than £10m,


Prestwick airport is to be sold by New Zealand owners

March 9, 2012     Prestwick has relied heavily on Ryanair flights, which have been cut back sharply in the past two years, as the airline moved business to Edinburgh. New Zealand-based Infratil said the sales are the result of a decision to refocus where it plans to invest. It has also decided to sell Manston. Prestwick Chief Executive Iain Cochrane said “Prestwick is a great airport with a great team and a great future. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for us to attract new investment into the airport to provide the stimulus for future growth.” In reality Prestwick saw a drop of nearly 20% in passenger numbers in July 2011, compared with the same month last year. Passengers for all of 2011 were around 1,295,600, down -21.9% on 2010. This is down hugely from the 1,817,200 or so in 2009.    Click here to view full story…

Confirmed: Manston Airport up for sale, as Infratil also sheds Prestwick

March 8, 2012     Manston Airport has been put up for sale by its New Zealand based owners, Infratil.  At Infratil’s Investor Day it announced that it intends to sell its two UK airports Manston and Prestwick because of a refocusing of its investment profile.  Infratil will prioritise its other business interests – which include electricity generation and retailing and natural gas as well as transport provision in New Zealand. Click here to view full story…


Infratil airport results for year ending March 2011 show £5 million loss – could be job losses at Manston

11th July 2011   Jobs could be lost at Kent International Airport after it launched a widescale review of all staff on 23rd March. Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Infratil, the company which owns Manston airport, said it was reviewing “working patterns and conditions of all staff”. The consultation would last for at least 90 days. Nothing has been heard  yet.  Infratil is making huge losses at its two UK airports, Manston and Prestwick, as traffic weakens.   Click here to view full story…


Ryanair cuts send passenger numbers down 11% at Prestwick

4th May 2011     Prestwick Airport suffered an 11% annual fall in passenger numbers after Ryanair slashed capacity last year. This was announced by Infratil, which blamed it on Ryanair’s reduction of UK domestic and Irish routes and services. Ryanair cut its services from Prestwick to both Stansted and Belfast City airports, and it also withdrew a number of routes completely, including those to Charleroi, Torp in Norway, Gothenburg, Shannon, Milan and Budapest.    Click here to view full story…

Passengers down again at Prestwick Airport in January

2nd March 2010    There was another sharp fall in the number of passengers flying through Prestwick airport in January, but the rate of decline slowed. Infratil said 103,188 passengers used the airport in the month, down -22% on January 2009. In the 10 months to January 31, a total of 1,488,638 passengers flew in or out of Prestwick, down 26% on the same period in the preceding year. (Herald)   Click here to view full story…


Ryanair to create 200 jobs at Prestwick Airport

11th February 2010    Ryanair is to build a 2nd maintenance hangar at Prestwick.  The £8m investment, supported by £1.5m from the Scottish government, will see both facilities service Ryanair’s fleet of more than 200 aircraft. Ryanair would run 3 new routes from Edinburgh to Faro, Paris and Marrakech from May. The jobs will be in engineering.  The Scottish government is supporting the project, with the offer of £890,000 in RSA and £640,000 in training grants. (BBC)   Click here to view full story…


Infratil to sell Prestwick and Manston

18th November 2009     Infratil may be planning to sell off its remaining airports. Prestwick and Manston could be sold within a year. They already sold their German airport back to the City of Lubeck this month at a near break-even price.     Click here to view full story…


120 jobs set to go at crisis-hit Prestwick Airport

13th February 2009   Prestwick airport are axing a quarter of their workforce. They have told their staff that up to 120 jobs are to go. The exact number will depend on the final summer schedules and the ongoing consultation process. There is a major decline in aviation activity throughout Europe. In addition, Prestwick have been hit by some firms moving business elsewhere and the demise of Seguro Holidays. There was even a plan to close the airport at night. (Daily Record)     Click here to view full story…

31.01.09 Prestwick Airport considers night shutdown 
21.01.09 Losses cause business review at Prestwick Airport

21.12.08 Prestwick Airport policing costs row
19.12.08 Prestwick Airport passengers down 6%

22.11.08 Passengers down 7% at Prestwick Airport
06.11.08 Work starts on Prestwick Airport extension

31.10.08  Prestwick Airport sets out draft master plan
30.10.08 Prestwick Airport predicts huge growth
27.10.08 Passengers down at Prestwick Airport
25.10.08 Wind farm rejected over Prestwick Airport concerns
16.10.08 Ryanair wants investigation in to fuel costs at Belfast and Prestwick airports

27.09.08 Prestwick Airport boss ‘confident’
12.09.08 Prestwick’s holiday airline goes bust
06.09.08 Glasgow Airport sale ‘may kill of Prestwick’
04.09.08 Aer Arann announce Cork – Prestwick route

31.08.08 Passengers up 1% at Prestwick Airport
28.08.08 Ryanair axe Cork flights from East Midlands and Prestwick

27.07.08 Prestwick Airport expansion hampered by ‘unprofessional’ railway service
22.07.08 Passengers up 3% at Prestwick Airport
21.07.08 Prestwick Airport reject name change
06.07.08 New jobs blow at Prestwick Airport

17.06.08 Passengers up 2.5% at Prestwick Airport
16.06.08 Bombs air firm quits Prestwick Airport

28.05.08 Prestwick – Turkey route launched
19.05.08 Prestwick Airport passengers down 2%
02.05.08 Prestwick Airport hires hawk

26.04.08 Prestwick Airport passengers up 6 percent
09.04.08 Ryanair add new Prestwick – Barcelona flight
12.03.08 Study says Prestwick Airport generates £175m for Scotland

16.02.08 Prestwick Airport passengers down 1%

26.01.08 Passengers and Freight up at Prestwick Airport

13.12.07 Passengers up 1% at Prestwick Airport

19.11.07 Passengers up 1 percent at Prestwick Airport

15.10.07 Passengers down 1% at Prestwick Airport
03.10.07 Transavia scrap Prestwick – Amsterdam flights

20.09.07 Ryanair announce new Cork flights from Glasgow and East Midlands

All articles in reverse date order