Cabinet Secretary visits Glasgow Prestwick Airport
During his first visit to the airport in his new post, Mr Brown was given a tour of the facilities and met with airport management, the leader of South Ayrshire Council, officials from Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Ayrshire College.
The Scottish Government took the airport into public ownership in November 2013, a move that safeguarded around 1350 jobs directly and indirectly linked to the business.
Mr Brown said:
“I felt it was important to visit Glasgow Prestwick Airport myself in my new post, given the importance it has to the local and wider economy.
“The action taken by the Scottish Government has safeguarded around 1350 jobs linked to the airport and provided security for hundreds of families in the local area.
“It was good to speak with airport management and hear first-hand the plans for moving the business forward. I also had the opportunity to meet some of the local stakeholders and hear about the important role the airport plays for them.
“We want Glasgow Prestwick Airport to become the successful and vibrant airport we know it can be. We have always acknowledged that there is no quick fix but there are opportunities for the airport to build on, from increasing passenger and freight traffic to putting forward a bid for the UK Spaceport programme.
“We are confident there is a place for Glasgow Prestwick Airport in the evolving Scottish aviation market and look forward to seeing it grow and develop in the future.”
Andrew Miller, Chairman of Glasgow Prestwick Airport, said:
“I welcome the opportunity to brief Mr Brown today on our efforts to re-position the airport and drive the business forward. Despite there being no quick fix solution for the airport, I firmly believe it has a bright future and my priority is to see it return to profitability and become a busy and prosperous strategic anchor for economic growth in Ayrshire and Scotland.
"We are actively pursuing many commercial opportunities. This includes the hi-tech Spaceport project which will bring significant economic benefits to both Ayrshire and Scotland and we are determined to win the bid and become the UK’s first Spaceport.”
Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council and Chair of the Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Aerospace Stakeholder Group, said:
“Together with our partners across Ayrshire, we’ve been working very closely – and constructively – with Ministers and the Scottish Government to support a positive future for Glasgow Prestwick Airport and we’re making good progress.
“Our Glasgow Prestwick Airport & Aerospace Stakeholder Group is designed to support the work of the airport itself – which is represented on the group – and focuses on development both in and around the site. There’s a huge amount of enthusiasm and commitment from everyone involved and we’re all invested in making sure Glasgow Prestwick can be a viable and sustainable business in the long-term. There’s very exciting prospects around the opportunity for Prestwick to become the UK’s first Spaceport in 2018 and there’s a power of work underway to ensure Glasgow Prestwick is a strong contender. We’re also focusing on the future development of the great aerospace engineering capability we have in the area to ensure it reaches its full potential.
“With our Chief Executive, Eileen Howat, also sitting on the airport board, there’s a real team effort working to support the airport and we’re pleased to continue to develop our close working relationship with Ministers and the Scottish Government. I’m confident that, with the excellent collaboration we have, Glasgow Prestwick Airport will have a bright future.”
Val Russell, CEO of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce said:
“Glasgow Prestwick Airport is an important hub for the local economy. Ayrshire Chamber is committed to working with the airport to ensure sustainability, safeguarding of jobs but more importantly to support growth and development of the airport and the aerospace sector in Ayrshire.”
Heather Dunk, Principal of Ayrshire College, said:
“We want to maximise the opportunities at Prestwick Airport and by working together the stakeholders can influence positively the future development of the airport. The College is supporting the development of skills with a number of companies based at the airport and in the wider Ayrshire. We are keen to engage in early discussions with any new businesses to the airport, Prestwick and the surrounding area to ensure that we can fully support the skills needs of their workforce."
Glasgow Prestwick Airport is a public corporation operating on a commercial basis and at arm’s length from the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government’s investment takes the form of loan funding, which will attract a market rate of interest in line with state aid rules and we expect this investment to generate a long term return for taxpayers’ money.