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As the member is aware, an advert inviting expressions of interest was published in the
Official Journal of the European Union in June this year. The senior management team at the airport continue to consider bids that were received. Consideration of bids is a complex matter that requires detailed assessment and consideration. However, I reassure the member that good progress continues to be made.
To protect the integrity of the process and respect the wishes of the parties involved, confidentiality needs to be maintained. The Scottish Government will provide an update to Parliament at the appropriate time, while respecting the commercial aspects of the process.
On 10 September, the cabinet secretary told Parliament:
“The management team at Prestwick has advised me that it is making good progress and it intends to continue to work to the timescales as best it can. However, there is always a need to take into account any unforeseen matters”. —[
, 10 September 2019; c 8.]
Given that the aim was to conclude the sale by 4 October, can the cabinet secretary tell us the unforeseen matters that have caused the delay, when he expects the Government to be asked to agree a sale—or otherwise—and whether he is confident that a sale is likely?
As Colin Smyth will be aware, we set out in the eligibility criteria questionnaire the indicative timetable for the process. The senior management team has undertaken a detailed process, which has taken longer than we had expected, to make sure that they evaluate the proposed bids in great detail and, if necessary, enter into discussions with interested parties to explore those details to a greater level.
I assure the member that I will update Parliament with as much information as I can once I am in a position to do so. However, what I will not do is compromise a confidential process that is being undertaken by the management team and interested parties. I am sure that he will recognise that it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that the integrity of the process is maintained and respected.
The Presiding Officer:
I was very conscious of trying to get to your question, Mr Lyle. We took only three supplementaries, but sometimes the length of the questions, the number of supplementaries and the length of the answers conspire against members who are lower down the order paper. If the member wishes to press his request-to-speak button at another part of the parliamentary week—for example, during First Minister’s question time—I can assure him that I will be minded to accept a question.