AMID continuing controversy over its ownership by the Scottish Government, Glasgow Prestwick Airport is making some headway.

Non-executive chairman Andrew Miller hailed the airport’s achievement of an operating profit for its first half to September, after interest payments but before charges for capital expenditure. This is clear progress, albeit Mr Miller also notes Prestwick will likely make another loss over this financial year as a whole.

In the year to March, Prestwick reduced its underlying operating loss by 38% to £3 million as turnover rose 34% to £18.2m. This too represents progress.

But Prestwick still faces huge challenges. Its bottom-line loss was £7.6m in the year to March, albeit reduced from £8.6m. That said, given the £7.6m reflects the requirement under accounting standards relating to distressed assets for Prestwick to write off 100 per cent of capital expenditure in the year it is incurred, the much-smaller underlying operating loss is therefore an important indicator. And Mr Miller projects reduced losses this financial year.

Prestwick has much to offer in terms of cargo traffic, with capacity to handle big pieces of equipment requiring transport by large aircraft needing a long runway.

But Ryanair is now the only passenger airline operating at Prestwick. And, with Glasgow Airport chief Derek Provan having made his views clear about the Scottish Government supporting jobs at Prestwick at a time when his operation was losing employment because of a loss of Ryanair services, continued controversy over the Ayrshire airport’s ownership looks inevitable.