Prestwick Airport

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 8th February 2018.

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Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

What I said to Patrick Harvie the last time that he raised this question in Parliament was absolutely correct.

There are two key so-called revelations at the heart of the story. The first is that ministers somehow lobbied Trump on behalf of Prestwick airport. That is based on the fact that, back in early 2015—which, incidentally, was way before Mr Trump was even a candidate, let alone President—Transport Scotland passed on a request from Prestwick for ministers to meet the Trump Organization during Scotland week that year. Those meetings did not happen, so that part of the story is categorically untrue. There has been no contact whatsoever by the Scottish Government or Transport Scotland with the US military, the Trump Organization or Trump Turnberry in relation to Prestwick airport.

The second so-called revelation is that Prestwick airport handles military flights, including flights for the US. I have to say that the fact that it provides fixed-base operations and refuelling facilities for military flights is neither new nor a revelation. The airport’s strategic plan, which was published in April 2017, talks about that. Its annual accounts, which were published in, I think, December 2017, talk about it. Its website also actively promotes it. What is more, Prestwick airport has been doing such work for 80 years.

I am not old enough to remember this—and I do not think that Patrick Harvie is, either—but those who are old enough will remember the day that Elvis Presley touched down at Prestwick airport. He was there because he was on his way home from national service, on a military plane that landed at Prestwick to refuel. That is not new and it is not a revelation: it is a load of bunkum.