It is time to face the facts over the losses at Prestwick Airport
IT is understandable that government ministers wonder if public funds can be used to save jobs when a business is threatened with closure. But sadly, underwriting losses is a very poor use of public money if there is little prospect of a return to profitability and this seems to be the case with Prestwick Airport (“Annual loss at Prestwick Airport rises to £7 million”, The Herald, January 13).
As annual losses grow, and the total lost to date reaches £19m, it appears the Government would have been far better looking to invest directly in alternate job-creating businesses in the area rather than a transport model that has demonstrably failed. Prestwick only continues as an ongoing entity because it has a promise of the Scottish Government providing more money as its losses build up. In a travel business where volumes are so critical, Prestwick’s passenger numbers continue to decline.
The Scottish Government spokesman is clearly clutching at straws with talk of eventually getting a higher return on its investment than the interest charged on its loans. Prestwick Airport would need to generate profits of more than £20m to repay the public money put in so far and there is no evidence of that being a realistic prospect. The Scottish Government should look for a new private owner for the airport, and if it finds no interest it should accept the economic reality rather than allow the public losses to pile yet higher. Keith Howell, White Moss, West Linton. YOUR article indicating that the annual loss at Prestwick Airport is £7 million comes as no surprise; nor the fact that the loss is almost £1m more than last year.
Each year we are supposed to be assured that “Public ownership need not necessarily be a long-term feature of Prestwick management” or “the losses were less than previously forecast”.
In the meanwhile the cost to the public purse climbs as high and as fast as an aircraft taking off: more than £20m to date and still counting.
Every government makes mistakes. The mark of sound government is when it realises the fact, stops clutching at straws in the wind over its 7000ft runway and uses the annual loss to promote new business in that area. Regretfully the Scottish Government is not prepared to admit its shortcomings. R Johnston, 3 Barcapel Avenue, Newton Mearns.
TERMINAL DECLINE? Prestwick Airport’s operating deficit last year was almost £1m higher than in 2015, bringing total losses since it went into public hands to £19m. The Government has said there will be “no quick fix”.