An expression of interest has been made to buy the Scottish Government-owned Prestwick Airport, MSPs have been told.

The airport was brought into public ownership in 2013 for £1, with the intent for it to return to the private sector when it returned to profit.

Earlier this year, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray said the operating profit for the travel hub was £1.9 million.

Appearing before the Economy and Fair Work Committee on Wednesday, bosses were asked if there are any credible bids on the table for the airport.

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Chief executive Ian Forgie said: “From time to time, we’ve had bids.

“We’re currently looking at one expression of interest that is going through that early process of diligence and we’ll give more details in due course.”

Forsyth Black, the airport’s non-executive chairman, added: “We’ll put it through that filter and we’ll recommend upwards to Scottish Government what the board thinks is the realistic next step.”

But during his appearance before the committee later in the morning, Mr Gray said there is a non-disclosure agreement in place between the airport and the prospective bidder, meaning he could not give more detail.

The Herald: Prestwick AirportPrestwick Airport (Image: Newsquest)

Asked how many bids have been received that have been passed to ministers, Mr Black said there had been none during his time in post – around two years – despite a “small number of bids” which have not passed required tests.

Mr Forgie said there was a bid passed to Government ahead of the pandemic which was given “preferred bidder status”, although he said its failure to proceed was “purely” due to the “impact of the pandemic”.

Mr Gray said while the Scottish Government wants to see the airport back in private hands, there must be conditions.

“We want those terms to be clear, that (buyers) are going to provide a clear future pathway for the airport, that they demonstrate they’ve got the finance and the experience in order to be able to make it a success, and that they’re going to continue to show and demonstrate wider economic development in the area,” he said.

“We’re not going to sell on any terms.”

The minister went on to say he is not concerned about the chances of a sale back into the private sector, adding the Scottish Government is not a “distressed seller”.