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            january 18, 2020

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Scottish air cargo airport goes under the hammer but sales talks stall


The UK government may be forced to close state-owned Glasgow Prestwick airport, Scotland's fourth-largest, after the deadline for its proposed sale passed with talks ending in gridlock.
A bid by Prestwick-based aerospace company Orbital Access and private equity interests stalled over the Scottish government's unwillingness to negotiate terms of the sale, including responsibility for GBP40 million (US$52 million) debt owed by Prestwick to the government.
Orbital Access management has bristled at the debt, suggesting that the government's capital injection was used to cover previous operating losses at the airport, rather than for infrastructure improvements. Scottish media report that the Orbital Access-led bid for the airport was GBP100 million, plus a further commitment for GBP200 million, American Shipper reported.
Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has indicated he will draw up new plans for Prestwick if a buyer cannot be found. Mr Matheson said that efforts are focused on returning the airport to the private sector, but "should this not be achievable for any reason, we will consider options for taking the airport forward in the future".
Prestwick was put on the block in June, six years after it was taken under public ownership by the government to spare the airport from closure. Official documents stated that a preferred bidder was expected to be selected in the first week of September and the sale wrapped up by early October.
Prestwick is mainly an air cargo facility, with 2018 freight throughput reaching 13,000 tonnes, according to the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a 14 per cent surge. A large amount of cargo involves livestock, oil well equipment and aircraft engines. Prestwick features the longest runway north of Manchester. Carriers using Prestwick include Atlas Air, CargoLogic and Cargolux.

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