PRESTWICK Airport could be ‘forced to shut’ if it was asked to repay the money it has received in the last four years.

At an inquiry held by the Rural Economy and Transport committee on Wednesday, June 21, the senior management at Prestwick Airport suggested that passenger flights could be ‘dropped’ if it was to give back the ‘tens of millions’ of taxpayer’s money.

Around £40 million of public money has been put into the airport since it was bought by the Scottish Government in 2013, but it has since made losses of £24 million and has experienced ‘little growth’ in the number of people using the airport.

John Scott MSP said the underlying value of the land is “significantly more than the liabilities incurred thus far”.

He explained that it was his understanding that the Scottish Government would not lend the airport money beyond this value.

He said: “In the worst-case scenario, it has huge value for building, located around Prestwick Airport and between Troon and Ayr. And that is the bottom line as far as the Scottish Government is concerned, as I understand it.

“If the business went belly-up, then the Government would still get its money back.”

It is understood that the management at Prestwick are “currently reviewing” the airport’s operations to “decide on a way forward” and confirmed it currently “did not make any profit from passenger flights”.

Stewart Adams, Chief Executive Officer at Prestwick Airport said an economic review of its services is being carried out, adding: “It’s clear that the passenger side of the business does not make money. Passenger numbers certainly need to increase but it is very difficult at the moment.”

A spokesperson for Prestwick Airport, concluded: “This was in response to a hypothetical question and this is not the position. 

“Scottish Government’s commitment was firm when Keith Brown said to the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee on May 23 that Scottish Government has “not set a time limit for a return to profitability or for the repayment of the loan support provided. 

“The Airport team continues to work relentlessly on turning Glasgow Prestwick into a profitable, sustainable airport and aviation centre that can be returned to the private sector.

 “Prestwick’s potential as a spaceport and the airport’s key role in Ayrshire’s bid to become a logistics hub for Heathrow’s expansion remain major development opportunities.”