Calls for Prestwick airport to be called after Robert Burns

Calls to rename Prestwick Airport in honour of the poet Robert Burns have been broadly welcomed by a committee of MSPs.

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Holyrood's Public Petitions Committee was asked to consider the proposal to re-brand the airport as the Robert Burns International.

The troubled airport was brought into public ownership by the Scottish Government last year when former owner Infratil earmarked it for closure. It supports 1,400 local jobs, is worth £60 million to the Scottish economy and was considered too important to close.

Alison Tait, of the Robert Burns World Federation, described the plan to MSPs.

"His legacy is of incalculable value to Scotland and the country's image abroad," she said.

"However, it is not the sentimental aspect of Burns which is of importance and what brings us here today, but rather the business case."

Using Burns would link the airport to the region he is most closely associated with and provide a boost to tourism, MSPs were told.

"There is an opportunity for the south-west of Scotland to capitalise on tourist value," she said.

"Everything from spend on tour guides and ancestry research to golf and hotels."

The airport has already produced ''positive'' results since the Government took over, with a 4% increase in passenger numbers and 3% increase in freight volume, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the committee last month.

Committee convener David Stewart said: "All members are very keen with the course of action identified."

The petition is being kept open for further consideration.

Local government

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