Scotland business

Nicola Sturgeon positive over Prestwick spaceport bid

Rocket Image copyright AFP
Image caption Prestwick Airport is in contention to host a spaceport, like the one at Sinnamary in French Guiana

Scottish government-owned Prestwick Airport is in a good position to become the UK's first spaceport, the deputy first minister has said.

But Nicola Sturgeon said ministers could not make the loss-making Ayrshire airport a preferred bidder while the process was at an early stage.

Supporters of spaceport status say it could transform Prestwick.

The airport was bought over by the government in a last-ditch effort to keep it open.

Its 2013-14 accounts, due to be published shortly, are expected to show an annual loss of about £5m.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the government must remain neutral at this stage in the process, with eight UK sites in contention to become a spaceport - six of them in Scotland.

She added: "We want to make sure that we're doing everything to secure Scotland as the winner of this bid, wherever in Scotland that may end up being.

"We may well get to the stage where the government is not neutral, not all of the locations bid or there is clearly an outstanding bid, but we're at an early stage of this process, so I think it is important we recognise that."

The proposal to attract a spaceport to Prestwick was laid out in a long-term vision for the future of the airport, which is used by budget airline Ryanair.

Scottish ministers have committed £10m of investment to Prestwick Airport, which is going towards operating costs, a repairs backlog and improvements to the terminal building.

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