Pure dead brilliant?
Not quite, but the Scottish Government's bold decision to take Prestwick Airport into public ownership does at least give it the chance of a future.
Announcing the move yesterday, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stressed that the airport directly employs 300 people with a further 1400 jobs associated with it. It will be a great relief to the local community knowing those jobs are safe, at least for now, particularly given the economic hardship parts of Ayrshire have experienced over the last 25 years.
Then there is the wider economic benefit. Governments rightly consult a different balance sheet from private companies when deciding the value of an infrastructure asset, one that takes into consideration more than shareholder dividends. Ms Sturgeon noted that the airport generated £61.6m for the Scottish economy last year, the loss of which would reverberate around the country were it to close.
As a site, meanwhile, Prestwick has a great deal going for it, including the longest commercial runway and parallel taxiway in Scotland, allowing for all types of aircraft to be accommodated, and, crucially, its own train railway station, the envy of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports.
For all these reasons, the Scottish Government has made the right decision in buying Prestwick Airport, but the challenge it faces in returning the facility to profitability is daunting. Ministers must be willing to take difficult decisions that may be unpopular in the short term if doing so helps secure a long-term future for the airport and its staff, otherwise their move will only postpone Prestwick's demise.
The public sector may not have an illustrious record when it comes to running businesses at a profit, but there was a positive omen yesterday for the Scottish Government when its announcement coincided with news that the UK Government-run East Coast Mainline made £208.7m for the taxpayer last year.
That said, each case of public ownership must be taken on its merits. Manchester Airport, for instance, co-owned by 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester, is highly successful, but located in the middle of a huge conurbation with no direct competitor airport; neither of those crucial factors holds true for Prestwick. Sometimes airports cannot be rescued: Plymouth Airport closed in 2011 after 80 years, even though many local people wanted the city council to take action to save it.
The Scottish Government insists Prestwick can be made to turn a profit, but how? That question remains unanswered, as does that of how much it will cost and where the money will come from to pay for it.
Competitor airports to Prestwick such as Heathrow Airport Holdings-owned Glasgow, or Edinburgh, now owned by Global Infrastructure Partners since BAA was forced to sell one of its Scottish airports by the Competition Commission, may feel that public ownership will give Prestwick an unfair advantage, but at present the problem is that it is hardly competitive with either.
Will it become more so? If so, how? The Scottish Government must now explain in detail how it plans to make Prestwick pay.
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