The Scottish Government has commenced talks to bring Glasgow Prestwick Airport into public ownership in a move that will protect around 1,400 jobs, according to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Prestwick Airport was put up for sale in March 2012, following which, the Scottish Government, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and South Ayrshire Council, has been working with current owners Infratil to help find a private buyer.
The government noted that even though the airport attracted potential investors, it has been determined that no private buyer would be able to complete the acquisition in an acceptable timescale to the current owner.
Sturgeon said that the Scottish Government has advised the current owners Infratil of its intention to commence a process towards the acquisition of Prestwick Airport.
"Over the next few weeks we will focus on due diligence, legal and commercial issues around public ownership and the development of a business plan that will allow Prestwick to thrive once again," Sturgeon added.
"Once a transaction has been completed, I will make a further statement to parliament."
As part of the new plan, the ministers are entering into negotiations with Infratil over the potential acquisition of Prestwick Aviation Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries, subject to the completion of due diligence and the appropriate legal processes.
Meanwhile, Infratil will continue to operate the airport to maintain its assets and keep it open for business.
Infratil chief executive officer Marko Bogoievski said that in March 2012 the company announced its intention to sell its two UK airports, Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Manston Kent Airport, to refocus its investment profile.
"Recognising the importance of the airports to their local communities, Infratil’s preference has been to secure a new owner with the capacity to support their future success," Bogoievski added.
"We believe that a Scottish Government acquisition of Glasgow Prestwick Airport achieves that objective and will work proactively with the Scottish Government over the next six weeks towards achieving completion of a transaction."
Image: Prestwick Airport has been on the market since March 2012. Photo: courtesy of Raymond Okonski/ Geograph.org.uk.