Glasgow Prestwick Airport is to be taken into public ownership after its present owners failed to find a buyer.
The airport was put up for sale last March by New Zealand-based owners Infratil and has been running annual losses of £2 million.
Ministers will now enter detailed negotiations with Infratil on the terms of sale.
Infratil had been unable to find a buyer for the airport on an appropriate timescale, the Scottish government explained.
Presenting the decision to the Scottish parliament deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon argued the closure of Prestwick would be a “serious and unwelcome development” for the Ayrshire and the Scottish economies.
The closure would lead to the loss of about 1,400 jobs linked directly or indirectly with the airport.
Ms Sturgeon also pointed out the Scottish government already had responsibility for 11 airports through Highlands & Islands Airports Limited.
Infratil has agreed to ensure the airport is kept fully open and operational while the process is ongoing.