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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

Glasgow Prestwick Airport losses increase to more than £9m

Losses at Glasgow Prestwick Airport have increased to more than £9m in the last financial year.

(Pic - ADN) 

The company's latest accounts show a loss of £9.21m in 2015/16, an increase on the previous year's loss of £8.71m.

The accounts also show passenger numbers significantly falling in the period.

Prestwick handled just 624,000 passengers in the period, a decrease of 202,000. In 2007/08, the airport handled 2.4 million passengers.

The Scottish Government bought the airport in 2013 after its then owner, Infratil, could not find a buyer after placing the airport on the market for 18 months.

The devolved administration has pledged to give £9.4m in loans to the airport in the current financial year.

By the end of the year the government will have provided the business with £39.5m from taxpayers.

Government spending watchdog Audit Scotland estimated such a level of funding would have to happen until 2021-22.

In a report in 2015, the watchdog said: "Any changes to the number of passengers using the airport are likely to have a major impact on its overall income, and potentially whether the Scottish Government achieves a financial return from its investment."

When purchasing the airport, Scottish Government business plans predicted annual passenger growth rates in each of the first five years of 10.2%. This was revised down to 6.5% in 2014.

In the first year of operations since its purchase passenger numbers at Prestwick fell by 15%, the largest fall of any airport handling more than one million passengers that year.

The South Ayrshire airport earned £1m from handling military operations during the period.

Prestwick hopes to increase its revenues from military flights and the company intends to "focus... on building stronger links with the US Air Force, Canadian Air Force and the RAF in particular."

The accounts also state: "The group has invested in remote immigration facilities to allow the speedy clearance of international VIP visitors, be that military or business/private jets."

In the accounts, the airport's chief executive Ron Smith said: "The airport continues to work to turn around its financial performance and there are promising signs in a number of areas, though growing the passenger business remains a challenge.

"The airport is a front-runner in the process to become the first designated UK Spaceport and is continually looking for opportunities to maximise both income and the broad scope and opportunity offered as a strategic national asset."

He continued: "Our future is in our hands and through our strategic plans we aim to deliver success through new business opportunities in freight, passenger, other aviation and property."

The Scottish Conservatives say the airport must be sold to a private airport "as soon as possible".

The party's transport spokesman Liam Kerr said: "These latest results reaffirm the need for the Scottish Government to return the airport to the private sector as soon as possible.

"When it got involved, it was well-warned it would have to improve things significantly to make the airport viable.

"Instead, it would appear ministers' involvement has only made things worse.

"It's a very important employer for the local area, and as such the SNP really has to explain what is plan is to secure its future without dipping into the public purse any further."

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

Glasgow Prestwick 2015/16 accounts key points:

Loss: £9.21m

Net liabilities: Increased to £17.93m from £8.71m.

Turnover: Down from £12.4m to £11.5m.

Passenger numbers: Fell from 827,000 to 624,000.

Freight tonnage: Down to 11,409 from 12,379.


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