Given it is a valuable strategic asset employing hundreds of people directly and supporting thousands of jobs in all, you might be forgiven for thinking there would be a ubiquitous desire to see Prestwick Airport succeed.

Sadly not, however.

Much of the time antipathy towards Prestwick Airport, where it exists, appears to be all tied up with individuals’ political beliefs, around the constitution or the SNP or both, given its ownership by the Scottish Government.

And it does seem to be one of those things over which people can become rather exercised.

Of course, right-wing ideology tends generally to go against state aid, even where it makes absolute sense in terms of safeguarding a nation’s strategic asset and protecting huge numbers of jobs.

It is clearly decades since the heyday of Prestwick Airport, previously Scotland’s hub for transatlantic flights.

However, quite quietly amid the moaning and groaning by many over its ownership by the Scottish Government, the airport has been going about its diverse mix of business to good effect.

Results for the year to March 31, published by Prestwick Airport this week, made for heartening reading.

Like other airports, Prestwick has been enjoying a bounce in tourism-related business as we have emerged from the grim days of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it also highlights the diversity of its income streams in its accounts, including services provided to various military customers as well as cargo operations.

And it highlights its ambitions to become a spaceport.

Prestwick Airport has not had its troubles to seek over the decades as sometimes fickle airlines have launched flights from the Ayrshire facility and then moved them elsewhere.

The airport has also not been helped by the demise of big charter flight operators.

So it is good to see Prestwick Airport back on a steady footing, albeit having been helped by £43.4m of loans from the Scottish Government, which rescued it in 2013.

The key thing for the state-owned airport, in spite of all the baying from its critics, is where things are at now, and the outlook.

In this regard, those who have voiced concern about Prestwick Airport having secured loans from the Scottish Government should be very pleased indeed to hear that the operation has made a fourth consecutive annual profit.

This is no mean feat in a most difficult period for the aviation sector, albeit things have thankfully returned quite swiftly to normality since the spring of last year.

It should be noted the Scottish Government did not have to lend Prestwick Airport any further money in the 12 months to March, or in either of the two preceding financial years.

Prestwick Airport’s solid showing in recent years is surely a relief, including from the perspective of employment and the health of the South Ayrshire and broader Scottish economy.

The airport, which has a direct rail link to Glasgow city centre, employs 330 people. It says it supports a further 1,700 jobs through its supplier network, and that it currently contributes £61.6m annually to the Scottish economy.

And it notes that more than 4,500 jobs in total are supported by the airport and the surrounding Prestwick aerospace cluster.

Prestwick Airport adds that it has “the longest commercial runway and parallel taxiway north of Manchester, plus a second runway of 1,905 metres which means all types of aircraft can be accommodated with no requirement for future extension”.

So what did Prestwick Airport’s results tell us when they were published this week?

The airport announced an operating profit of £2.1 million for the 12 months to March 31, up from £1.9m in the prior financial year.

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It noted that this increase had been achieved against a “challenging” backdrop, flagging the impact of Brexit on UK labour supply.

Passenger numbers in the year to March totalled 459,000, up from 118,000 in the prior 12 months. The prior-year period included restrictions on overseas travel arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Highlighting the effect of Brexit, the directors say in their strategic report on the accounts: “At the start of 2022 the travel sector predicted a strong summer season with unrestricted travel, but the impact of Brexit on the UK labour supply and the tightening of CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) regulations created a shortage of skilled labour for the aviation industry.

“However, the airport managed to adapt and recruit, avoiding passenger queues and delays, with our staff working hard to deliver a safe, secure and efficient service with passenger numbers substantially up on the previous year.”

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Avoiding queues and delays is something that several other airports, notably some south of the Border, did not achieve last year, amid the UK’s post-Brexit shambles.

Prestwick Airport’s revenue jumped to £58.1m in the year to March 31, from £35m in the prior 12 months. Within this, revenues from passenger business leapt to £3.8m in the year to March, from less than £1.3m in the prior financial year.

The accounts show revenue from fuel-related business jumped to £40.8m from £20.8m.

A spokesman for Prestwick Airport said of this: “Revenue growth was largely driven by a significant increase in the commodity price of jet fuel. This does not impact profits. There was a growth in fuel volume [year on year] which has driven some of the revenue growth and impacts profits.”

This is an important point. The fuel revenues are large but it is crucial to recognise the positive influence of the other key parts of Prestwick Airport’s business when it comes to profits.

The directors highlight their plans to invest in facilities to support the airport's military customers, amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

They say: "We continue to provide excellent service to our military customers with most NATO nations using our airfield and facilities, most notably the RAF, USAF and the Royal Canadian Air Force, which recently celebrated its 80th anniversary of a connection with Prestwick, now firmly established at the airport.”

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The jump in passenger numbers is clearly a very good sign for Prestwick Airport.

Hopefully, the airport can continue to build on this, competing on a level playing field with its larger rivals in Scotland.

Prestwick Airport’s directors had some good news to offer on the relationship with budget airline Ryanair in their strategic report, declaring: “We are pleased that we remain high up in…Ryanair’s key performance indicators and have agreed new terms with the carrier for another five years.

“Prestwick remains an important base for the carrier with an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility employing over 500 engineers at their facility at the airport, and we look forward to continuing to build on existing routes and add new routes to meet demand.”

That is an impressive number of engineers.

And building on existing routes and adding new ones would be good for customer choice as well as for the airport itself.

The fact of the matter is that Prestwick Airport is now consistently profitable.

That hopefully bodes well for the airport’s survival and for the safety of its 330 staff and the thousands of jobs that it supports.