THE Scottish Government has put Prestwick Airport up for sale six years after buying it for just £1.

Ministers stepped in to prevent its closure and protect jobs in 2013 but have had to loan the airport around £50 million to keep it afloat since then.

The government now says it wants the facility back in the private sector and is determined to get “the best deal possible”.

It is unclear whether the sale will involve the airport’s debt being transferred.

The Scottish Government announced that the airport will be advertised for sale in the Official Journal of the European Union, inviting expressions of interest in the business.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “Since the Scottish Government bought Glasgow Prestwick Airport in 2013, we have been clear that it is our intention to return the business to the private sector when the time is right.

“The senior management team at the airport has continued to engage with potential buyers and investors to discuss proposals for developing the business under new ownership.

“Good progress continues to be made by the airport to increase revenue, deliver operating efficiencies and pursue exciting opportunities for the future, including Spaceport.

“In light of that progress, the airport will shortly place an advert in the Official Journal of the European Union inviting expressions of interest.

“Any proposals submitted as a result of the advert would be considered carefully before any decision was taken to divest our shareholding in the airport or any part of the business.”

The National: Transport Secretary Michael MathesonTransport Secretary Michael Matheson

The First Minister has been pressed on the Government’s ownership of a facility directly linked to greenhouse gas emissions from the aeronautical industry after declaring a “climate emergency” last month.

Her official spokesperson was unable to say what had prompted the move, or whether it was linked to the climate emergency, according to The Herald.

The Scottish Conservatives welcomed the decision to sell the airport.

Ayr MSP John Scott said: "It is good news that Prestwick Airport is now being actively marketed for sale and I hope that a buyer can be secured at the earliest opportunity.

"Despite the problems the airport has faced over recent years, and the need for it to be taken over by the government in 2013, I have always firmly believed that it has the potential for a bright future.

"Prestwick has all the foundations for success – the longest commercial runway and parallel taxiway in Scotland, a reputation of being Britain's only fog-free airport, its own dedicated railway station, and a thriving aerospace campus.

"What it now needs is an owner prepared to put in the investment to take the airport forward as the major economic asset it undoubtedly is."

In June last year, the airport's chief executive told MSPs that passenger services from Prestwick Airport do not make any money.

Giving evidence to Holyrood's Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Stewart Adams said: "It's clear that the passenger side of the business does not make money.

"Passenger numbers certainly need to increase but it is very difficult at the moment."