Mar 16 2012 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
THIS is Prestwick Airport’s chance to soar to dizzy new heights.
So say aero chiefs, who insist the business could take off despite being put up for sale.
The airport’s New Zealand owners, Infratil, have announced they are ready to look for a buyer.
But those working at the Ayrshire airport say the news should not spark doom and gloom.
Chief executive, Iain Cochrane, insisted: “This decision comes from a re-focusing of Infratil's investment profile and has been under consideration for some time.
“It’s consistent with Infratil chief executive Marco Bogoievski’s public comments over recent months.
“Prestwick is a great airport with a great team and a great future.
“I believe this is an excellent opportunity for us to attract new investment into the airport to provide the stimulus for future growth.
“It’s business as usual as the busy summer season approaches and we’re totally focused on looking after our customers.”
The airport, which heavily relies on Ryanair for passengers, has seen a drop in numbers with the gradual reduction of flights from the Irish budget airline.
But politicians have joined the chorus of positive voices by insisting Prestwick can make the most of this new opportunity.
Central Ayrshire MP Brian Donohoe, said: “I’ve always maintained it would be difficult for the existing owners to operate the airport from so many miles away in New Zealand.
“This is now a crucial chance for Prestwick Airport to flourish both in the medium and long term.
“In fact, I see it as an opportunity to create even more jobs during that period.
“Prestwick is the only airport in Scotland to have its own rail link and is way ahead of the game in many respects.
“I feel it represents a very good investment opportunity and I remain very confident about its future.”
And Ayr MSP John Scott agrees that the latest move should not put the airport at risk.
He said: “Knowing the airport is now officially for sale removes an element of the uncertainty there had been about the future and I am reassured that for the time being it is business as usual for the airport.
“Intending buyers will know of the attributes of Prestwick, its fog-free status, its longest runway in Scotland, its proximity to North America and its strategic capability as the backstop for Scotland’s other airports when they are snow and ice bound, as they have been on many occasions over the past two winters.
“I hope a new buyer will be found quickly, who can take forward the development of the airport and secure its future.”