A report from The New York Times on Thursday found that from January to August of this year, 259 military crews have refueled at Prestwick Airport, about a 40-minute drive from President Donald Trump’s struggling Trump Turnberry Resort in Scotland.
The airport, which Trump touted as an integral part to his resort when he bought it in 2014, has been struggling to keep its doors open as of late. But a refueling deal with the US government is keeping the airport afloat, to the tune of $17.3 million since August of 2016.
The refueling deal was signed under President Barack Obama, but it came into significant use under Trump, with the number of stopovers at Prestwick growing from 156 in 2016, to 259 just through August of this year.
Two hundred and twenty of the stopovers have required overnight stays, The New York Times reports, citing the Department of Defense, up from 75 in 2016. Employees at Prestwick book hotel rooms for the military crews that arrive in C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, but they don’t all go to Trump Turnberry — there are budget options right beside the airport — “Turnberry is generally booked only if other hotels are unavailable or if customers specifically request it,” Michael Matheson, the Scottish transport minister, told Scottish Parliament earlier this week.
But, according to Turnberry staffers who requested anonymity, a surprising number of military personnel do.
Trump has denied any involvement in the military crews at his resort, tweeting, “They have good taste!”
While military personnel get a discounted rate at the Trump resort — as little as $130 per night — they must abide by the Defense Travel System, which gives personnel a $166 per diem for accomodations. It’s unclear how many military personnel have stayed at Trump Turnberry, but The New York Times found that the State Department had paid the resort — which lost $4.2 million in 2017 — at least $64,000 over the past two years, some of which may have been refunded.
The Air Force has launched an investigation into the way airmen select lodging in the wake of the scandal, and Air Force secretary nominee Barbara Barrett told the Senate Armed Services Committee that she would “take a look at” service members staying at Trump properties, but didn’t outright say she would prohibit the practice, Politico reported.