PRESTWICK Airport could be sold to a private bidder within four months, it has emerged.

Newly-issued official documents include an “indicative” sale completion date of October 4.

However they omit the £40m debt-pile burdening the loss-making operation.

The Scottish Government, which bought the airport for £1 in 2013to save it from closure, announced last week it was putting it up for sale in a bid to return it to the private sector.

It said an advert in the EU journal for public tenders would invite expressions of interest in order to “test the market”.

The move put a question mark over the £39.9m in Government loans keeping Prestwick afloat, with opposition parties questioning what if anything would ever be repaid.

The official documents for would-be bidders have now been released by TS Prestwick Holdco Ltd, the government owned company behind the airport.

The documents say the firm is “exploring the sale of 100% of its shareholding in Prestwick Aviation Holdings Ltd”, which owns Glasgow Prestwick Airport (GPA), and that the preffered bidder will be whoever submits “the most economically advantageous offer”.

READ MORE: Scottish Government puts debt-laden Prestwick Airport up for sale

They describe the airport as offering “a wide range of aviation services including freight, passenger military, specialist executive handling as well as general aviation.

“GPA is the only airport in Scotland to have its own railway station and railway link straight to the terminal. GPA has two runways serviced via six aprons.

“The terminal building was originally constructed for four million passengers and currently has capacity for 18 check in desks, 10 gates and 12 stands.

“GPA is located on a significant land bank of 356 hectares – 65 per cent of which is utilised for aviation activities.”

The documents say up to three bidders are expected, with companies told to lodge eligibility questionnaires by July 15.

An “indicative outline” of the next steps, which may change, says shortlisting of bidders could then be completed by July 26, due diligence work and the selection of a preferred bidder by September 6, and “transaction completion” by October 4.

The only clue in the documents to GPA’s grim financial position is a single reference to the Scottish Government being the preferred creditor, although the loan size is not given.

The documents say offers will be evaluated on “the price offered for the shareholding in Prestwick Aviation Holdings Ltd on a debt free cash free basis (to be applied in repayment of the Scottish Government loan first)”.

Offers will also be evaluated on “the level of transaction certainty and other terms of the Offer, covering aspects such as time period to completion, conditions attached to the Offer, terms of the sale and purchase agreement, and the deliverability of the proposals.”

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Besides the £40m owed to the taxpayers, Prestwick also has around £8m in other liabilities, around the same as its assets.

According to its latest accounts, TS Prestwick Holdco Ltd made a £7.6m loss on a turnover of around £18.2m in 2017/18.

Ryanair is its last main commercial carrier, and its is increasingly reliant on cargo flights and refuelling services for business.

The SNP Government bought GPA, which supports 300 jobs directly and 1500 indirectly, from New Zealand-based Infratil after it tried in vain for a year to find a private bidder.

At the time, the airport was losing around £2m a year.

Then deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the government would produce a plan for “turning Prestwick around and making it a viable enterprise”, but it has kept making losses.