Posts Tagged ‘Prestwick Airport’

A review of the operations at Prestwick airport, following its purchase by the Scottish Government in 2013 for £1 to avoid closure, has identified that the passenger side of the business down not make money and is a real drain on resources. Ryanair is the sole passenger operator, and the majority of passengers are holidaying scots and visitors. Its passenger total increased in the year to March 2018 by 3.5 per cent to 702,000 compared to Glasgow Airport’s 5.8 per cent growth to 9.9 million passengers in 2017, and Edinburgh Airport’s 8.6 per cent rise to 13.4 million.

Photo courtesy of Graham Spiers

More than twenty airline operators have been contacted to try to persuade them to fly from Prestwick, but without success, and attracting flights from London’s airports would be very difficult because of the number of flights already operating to and from Glasgow.

The airport had been loaned £40 million following its purchase in 2013, but it has lost as much since the acquisition – £25 million, as it had in previous years, and although several offers have been received to buy the airport, it would not be sold as building land for social housing.

Could the airport continue without fare-paying passengers?

The long-awaited answer to the decision of which UK airports would be selected as the UK’s first spaceport, was made public in July 2018 with Sunderland being nominated as the UKs first vertical-launch spaceport. This moves Prestwick a step closer as a serious contender, with £2 million funding from the UK Space Agency (UKSA) already invested in the basic infrastructure on site, in support of their plans to be one of the UK’s three horizontal space launch sites.

Prestwick bosses believe they are by far the most suitable spot for horizontal space launch in the UK in terms of its niche location, the availability of a 2,987-metre runway, and the thriving satellite manufacturing industry that exists on their doorstep. An independent assessment concluded that most of the anticipated infrastructure required for space launch capability is already in place at the site, meaning that they could move speedily to achieve a licence once the legislation is defined.

The spaceport project is an integral part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal and supporters say it would attract new investment to the aerospace cluster located around the airport, safeguarding existing jobs and creating many new ones. The vision, if realised, would place Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport as a centre of excellence for the space and aerospace industries.

The commercial space sector is worth an estimated £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next ten years. For the present, however, the very future of the airport hangs in the balance, and it is the duty of the Prestwick executive board to admit the reality of the airport’s future prospects and focus on those parts of the business which might be profitable instead with regards to paying back the tax-payers investments.



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