A POSSIBLE buyer for Glasgow Prestwick Airport has pulled out of a deal to purchase the site from the Scottish Government.

While ministers confirmed last year a preferred bidder for the airport had been found, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said he had now been advised that they did “not wish to complete the purchase of the business at this time”.

It comes as the travel and air industries have been left struggling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Matheson, in a letter to Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee, referenced this, saying “Covid-19 has impacted on the aviation sector globally”.

In these circumstances he said the Government “have been advised that the company selected as preferred bidder does not wish to complete the purchase of the business at this time”.

The Scottish Government had been seeking to sell the airport, where 300 people are employed directly with a further 1400 jobs being supported, after buying it for £1 in 2013, taking its ownership into public hands.

With the preferred bidder now not proceeding with the sale, Matheson said “Scottish ministers will reflect upon future options for the business”.

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “It is disappointing that the preferred bidder for Prestwick Airport has pulled out, but it’s not surprising.

“Scotland’s airports are in crisis as a result of the pandemic.”

He called on ministers to produce a “rescue plan for the entire aviation sector” – including coronavirus testing at airports to reduce quarantine periods.

Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth urged ministers to set out a “clear plan” on how the airport can operate in the public sector if it cannot be sold for a “fair price”.

He said: “Thousands of workers in the sector – including at Prestwick – need assurance that the Scottish Government will take action to secure their futures with sector-specific support and the urgent introduction of a testing regime at airports.”