THE outgoing chairman of Prestwick Airport who oversaw an influx of taxpayer loans needed to prop the business has been appointed to the same position with the nationalised ferry fiasco firm Ferguson Marine.

Andrew Miller will take up the chairmanship Ferguson Marine from December 1 in a role that will last for three years.

The Scottish Government said Mr Miller will be responsible for "delivering ministerial priorities for the publicly-owned yard".

Mr Miller became chairman of the airport board in December, 2014, the year after it was taken into public ownership after the Scottish Government paid a token £1 to buy it.

Since then the Scottish Government has ploughed in over £43m in loans leading to past concerns of unlawful state aid.

Transport Scotland provided written confirmation in 2021 that it will not seek repayment of all or part of the loan facility until at least March 31, 2023 - which directors then stated would enable the Ayrshire airport to "continue in operation existence for at least the next 12 months".

Ministers had aimed to comply with European Union state aid rules, which remains active, by charging interest at 2.2% over the European Reference Rate for state aid for the UK.

Ministers sanctioned a failure to even collect the interest payments from the loan for the benefit of the taxpayer - just to keep the airport afloat.

HeraldScotland: One of two Caledonian Macbrayne ferries being built in the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde. While building two ferries on contract for CalMac, Scotland's public-owned ferry company, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd was put into

Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland has said the £6.3m interest on the £43.3m loans was "impaired to nil" meaning it is probable that ministers will be unable to collect amounts due.

The Scottish Government has already been found to have given £50m in "illegal state aid" to Sumburgh Airport on Shetland and Inverness Airport after both received taxpayer support that had not been approved by the European Commission.

Mr Miller stepped down form his position on October 31 to be replaced by Forsyth Black, who had previously had a 19-year career with John Menzies plc, including the post of chief Executive and president & managing director of Menzies Aviation until 2019.

It comdes after chairman Alistair Mackenzie and board member John Hudson stepped down in January for personal reasons.

Appointed by ministers after the Scottish Government took control at the end of 2019 it was said they and the rest of the board would "bring a wealth of diverse and extensive experience to the business".

They were appointed after the recruitment of controversial £793,000-a-year turnaround director Tim Hair after the shipyard went into administration and who announced he was standing down in 2021.

HeraldScotland: Inverclyde jobs boost as shipyard announces 120 jobs
Pictured Tim Hair, Turnaround Director at Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow),

Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) is recruiting 120 temporary workers to support the introduction of a weekend shift.

Weekend pro

Mr Mackenzie and Mr Hudson were brought in in June 2020 as part of the first board of directors after the shipyard was taken into public ownership and left in April.

The chairman was replaced on an interim basis by Crown Estate Scotland board member Robert Mackenzie.

The much-delayed ferries Glen Sannox and as-yet-unnamed Hull 802 are still languishing at the Ferguson Marine yard and are due to be delivered in 2023 and early 2024 at a potential cost of nearly £350m – over three-and-a-half times the initial £97 million contract.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Andrew Miller brings a wealth of experience from previous senior positions, and is clear on the strategic and commercial issues for the yard.

“I am confident that his experience will help to deliver Ministerial priorities – the completion of the two ferries, securing a future for the yard and its workforce, and supporting Scotland’s island communities that rely on this type of vessel on a daily basis.

“I would like to thank Robert Mackenzie for stepping into the role of interim chair while the recruitment process took place.”

The Scottish Government said the chairman will be paid in line with pay policy for board appointments at the rate of £500 per day, for five days each month.

The airport was taken into public ownership in November 2013 after being purchased by the Scottish Government for £1.

The facility, which was put up for sale the previous year by New Zealand firm Infratil, had incurred annual losses of £2m.


Then deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the deal would help protect the airport and the 1,400 jobs it supported and that work would begin for "turning Prestwick around and making it a viable enterprise".

The Scottish Government has been trying to sell the airport but a preferred bidder pulled out of negotiations in May 2021.

The Scottish Government then re-engaged with the second-placed bidder, but “various concerns” were identified and it was not pursued further.

It is believed the last doomed bid came from Train Alliance UK and was scuppered when it emerged that major repairs are required to the runway.

The finance secretary Kate Forbes said earlier this year that ministers had decided not to go ahead with selling the airport late last year and that it was in a financially strong position.

However she said it is still the Government’s intention to return it to the private sector in the future.

Scottish Government-controlled TS Prestwick Holdco Ltd, which runs the airport, posted profits of £1.2m in 2022, down from £12.8m in 2021 and £5.5m in 2020. It made a loss of £272,000 in 2019.

The airport was running at a loss of £800,000 a month when ministers took over.

Mr Miller was a seasoned aviation executive when he was brought in to help revive the fortunes of the airport.

The executive, who grew up in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, and attended Aberdeen University, embarked on a long career in aviation and retail after joining British Airways as a graduate in 1977.

He predicted in 2017, that Prestwick would return to private ownership within five years.