Annual loss at Prestwick Airport rises to £7 million
LOSSES at taxpayer-funded Prestwick Airport have increased to more than £7 million as one leading industry figure said it needs a direct air link with Heathrow in London.
The Ayrshire airport’s operating deficit last year was almost £1m higher than in 2015, three years after the airport was bought by Scottish ministers for £1.
Total losses since the hub went into public hands now stand at £19m.
Laurie Price, a former airline executive and expert aviation consultant, said the airport needed to further diversify into other areas, including taking night mail and increasing military use, while finally achieving the air link to Heathrow.
“That [the Heathrow link] would say to the world, ‘Prestwick is open for business, we are connected to the world’,” he said.
“But you have to be innovative and behave like a business, not like a government.”
Prestwick director Ron Smith said increasing the passenger business “remains a challenge” and that there are still “significant challenges in returning the company to a sustainable and profitable operation”.
While turnover remained static at about £9.3m, he said in a report detailing losses for the year to March 2016 there were “promising signs in a number of areas”, including non-passenger related income.
The number of passengers using the airport has fallen by 25 per cent in a year to 624,000, with 462,867 fewer than in the year before Government ownership.
A Government spokesman said it wanted the airport to grow into “the successful and vibrant business we know it can be” but acknowledged “there is no quick fix”.
Taxpayer financial support rose £20.8m in 2016 from £10.8m in 2015.
An airport spokesman said the “repositioning of the business will take time” and the losses were less than previously forecast.
WHITEOUT: A postman in Braco, Perthshire, walks through blizzard conditions yesterday as more snow showers and strong winds were expected today. Picture: PA