REGAINING a direct link between Prestwick and Heathrow will be key to attracting passengers and investment to the troubled Ayrshire airport once it is taken into public ownership, according to an MP
Brian Donohue, chairman of Westminster's all-party parliamentary group on aviation and MP for Central Ayrshire, called on the UK Government to agree to increase slots at the London hub for regional routes or open up nearby RAF Northolt for passenger flights.
The Scottish Government has said it is entering talks to buy the site from New Zealand-based Infratil to stop it closing. The airport, which had been running at a loss of around £2 million per year, had been for sale for more than 18 months without finding a commercial buyer.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the airport supported 1400 jobs and generated more than £60m for the Scottish economy last year.
Sole operator Ryanair flies to 27 European destinations from Prestwick, but has been increasing its foothold at Edinburgh Airport in recent years, where it now operates 39 routes.
Edinburgh Airport chief Gordon Dewar said he would be following developments at Prestwick with interest, adding it was important for passengers travelling to and from Scotland that a truly competitive level playing field existed in the market.