PRESTWICK Airport has been put up for sale, the Scottish Government has announced.

The airport is being sold off six years after it was taken under public ownership by the Government, which bought it for just £1 to save it from closure.

Since becoming publicly owned during Nicola Sturgeon’s time as economy secretary, the airport has built up almost £50 million of debt, although current Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said at the start of the year that costs were falling and revenues were rising.

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

Matheson said: “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.”

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

Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “The Government were far too slow in making the changes needed to turn Prestwick around when they bought it, and as a result it’s doubtful they will get back the £50 million they have put in.

“However, the Government cannot simply wash its hands of Prestwick. Anything else would be an economic tsunami for Ayrshire and beyond.”