There is no commercial relationship between the Scottish Government-owned Prestwick Airport and the Trump Turnberry resort owned by the US president, Scotland’s Transport Secretary has told MSPs.
Michael Matheson stressed the Ayrshire airport does not receive any financial benefit from making bookings with Donald Trump’s hotel.
He spoke out after the US Air Force (USAF) reportedly ordered a review into how it chooses accommodation for international trips after it emerged crew members had stayed at the president’s resort.
Mr Trump tweeted on Monday afternoon that he knew “nothing” about the crew from a C-17 shared by the USAF and the Alaska Air National Guard staying at the hotel when the aircraft stopped at Prestwick en route to Kuwait.
Scottish ministers bought the Ayrshire airport for £1 in 2013, stepping in to prevent it from closing.
Mr Matheson told MSPs it “operates at arms-length from the Scottish Government”.
Pressed on the matter at Holyrood, he said: “Prestwick, like all other airports providing fixed-base operations, arranges overnight accommodation for air crew when asked to do so.
“It uses a list of 13 hotels, some of which pay Prestwick commission. Turnberry is generally only booked if other hotels are unavailable or if customers specifically request it.
“There is no commercial relationship between Prestwick and Turnberry.
“Prestwick does not benefit from commission or any other way from booking Turnberry and customers settle their own accounts direct with the hotel.”
He added the airport had been used by the military “for many decades” for stopovers and refuelling.
“That was the case when it was in the private sector and remains the case in the public sector,” the Transport Secretary said.
Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles, who had challenged him on the issue, said he was either “being deliberately evasive or he hasn’t the foggiest clue what is going on at an airport that is costing taxpayers millions of pounds”.
Mr Rumbles said: “The Scottish Government should come clean as to how much money they are receiving from the US military and what deals with Donald Trump’s business empire have been struck on the side.”