Prestwick Airport has recently splashed out £500,000 on its new facilities. The money has been spent on 8 new baggage cars costing £293,000 and luggage belts worth £90,000, as well as an upgrade to air conditioning within the departure lounge. Plans to improve check in technology, back up generators and walkway barriers are also in the works.The new features come after the disappointing news that the airport’s passenger numbers are in decline, as well as its freight numbers decreasing, too.
Last night Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “Investment in Prestwick is essential for it to grow as a business, but there must be proper oversight of how public money is spent and whether it represents value for money.
“Substantial sums have already been invested in the airport but it doesn’t seem to be improving.
“Too often in the past the spending of taxpayers’ money has been wasteful and we need to ensure that this is not the case again.”
Accounts show that the airport made a £9.21 million loss in 2015/16, with passenger numbers falling from 827,000 to 624,000.A Glasgow Prestwick Airport spokesperson said: “There has been an historic lack of investment in the airport prior to the Scottish Government taking ownership.
“We operate in a highly regulated and competitive market. In order to deliver a compliant, profitable and sustainable business for the long term, strategic investments will be required. These current investments enable us to ensure the highest safety standards, reduce our operating costs and bring in new business.”
The airport, which was purchased for £1 by the Scottish government, in 2013 after a private buyer couldn’t be found, saw 609,937 passengers pass through their doors in 2015. Busiest routes internationally include Barcelona, Malaga and Alicante.
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, questioned whether the Scottish Government should be backing the airport.
He said: “Taxpayers will be wondering how the authorities are finding the funds for this loan when making necessary savings is having to be balanced against delivering essential services.
“In the light of the recent news report about the Chief Executive’s taxpayer-funded luxury bed, hard pressed families picking up the bill are unlikely to look favourably at this.”
Things are looking up for Prestwick though, as the airport has been shortlisted as a potential Spaceport for the upcoming commercial flights that are looking to be available within the next 3 years, transporting passengers from earth to outer space. However, with ticket pricing estimated at around £200,000, we should all start saving!