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

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