A programme of development at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, including plans to become a spaceport, have been set out as part of a long-term strategic vision for the business.
The 53-page report details how recent spending on keeping the airport operational has resulted in a maintenance backlog in certain areas and highlighted that there are some critical items of equipment which need replacement.
A structured capital plan has been developed that will address much of the infrastructure backlog issues over the next few years including front of terminal improvements; a new and improved customer service desk; a redeveloped and expanded duty free store and additional repositioning projects.
The report reveals that work on the plan has already begun as it has resurfaced the airfield’s pavements, replaced runway lighting and installed a new passenger lift as well as a new state-of-the-art security x-ray machine.
The airport also plans a bid to become a UK spaceport after being named as one of the 8 locations under consideration by the UK Government.
The criteria identified which will make a suitable location for the spaceport includes an existing runway which is, or is capable of being extended to, over 3000 metres in length; the ability to accommodate dedicated segregated airspace to manage spaceflights safely and a coastal location to enable over sea take-off trajectories and the avoidance of overflight of densely populated areas.
It is anticipated that bid submissions from the interested airports will be submitted by April 2015 with the UK Government’s ambition for the spaceport to open in 2018.
The report has also identified “a significant need” to refurbish the rail station and skywalk connecting it to the airport, with initial estimates of this being up to £4.75 million while work has commenced on a new 2 bay hangar facility at the airport with operations scheduled to commence in January 2016.
Glasgow Prestwick chief executive, Iain Cochrane, said: “Our long-term vision for Glasgow Prestwick, which is shared by the Scottish Government, is of a high-quality, exceptional value and vibrant aviation, aerospace and visitor hub. We aim to ensure that it becomes the busy and prosperous strategic anchor for economic growth and delivery in Ayrshire and Scotland that we strongly believe it can be.
“The document outlines the plans for investment, development and the optimum operating structure required to take the airport forward to achieve this long-term vision.”
Mr Cochrane said the hi-tech Spaceport project presented Prestwick with another significant opportunity.
He added: “We are currently under consideration to become Britain’s first Spaceport. We satisfy – and in some cases exceed – all the essential criteria such as infrastructure, weather and airspace, and securing Spaceport status would be the catalyst for transformational change at the airport.
“It will also bring significant economic benefits to both Ayrshire and Scotland. Our team is therefore firmly focused on winning the bid.”
Scotland’s deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We want Glasgow Prestwick Airport to become the successful and vibrant airport we know it can be and the publication of this Strategic Vision document is the next stage in that journey.
“Glasgow Prestwick Airport is a public corporation operating on a commercial basis and at arm’s length from the Scottish Government.
“The management team has built on the work of the Senior Advisor and this document outlines their investment and business development plans, as well as the operating structure that is being put in place to take the airport forward.
“We have been clear from the start of this process that there is no quick fix for the airport but there are opportunities to improve in all areas of the business, from increasing passenger and freight traffic to putting forward a bid for the UK Spaceport programme.
“We are confident there is a place for Glasgow Prestwick Airport in the evolving Scottish aviation market and look forward to seeing it grow and develop in the future.”