Ministers have approved a deal to end the private finance initiative (PFI) agreement at Inverness Airport.
The airport terminal cost £9.6m to build
The £9.6m project saw the construction of a new terminal without any public money being spent up-front.
However, operator Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd had to pay finance company Inverness Air Terminal £3.50 for every passenger flying from the airport.
The leaseback agreement, which had been due to run until 2024, attracted widespread criticism.
It was branded a tax on expansion and denied Highland and Islands Airports the chance to negotiate cut-price deals with budget airlines.
Inglis Lyon, the airport operator's managing director, said a settlement price for the buy-out from the PFI owner, Infrastructure Investors, still had to be finalised.
The buy-out of the contract follows a similar move by the Scottish Executive last December to end tolls on the Skye Bridge.
Opponents of private finance initiatives for major public projects said the airport deal was further proof that the system did not work.
Fergus Ewing, Scottish National Party transport spokesman, branded the PFI deal "inept".
The Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber MSP said: "The terminal originally cost £9.6m, however after only six years the PFI repayments have almost equalled that and the PFI owners are expected to receive a lottery-style payout of more than £25m.
"The PFI owners are therefore expected to have received around £36m. If so, they will have received four times as much as the building actually cost."
Mr Ewing said the deal was fundamentally flawed because the PFI owners received £3 for every new passenger who passed through the airport.
Transport Minister Nicol Stephen said: "This deal will have a major impact on the economy right across the Highlands and Islands.
"The current contract has clearly been holding back the development of the airport and the economic potential of the whole area."
Mr Stephen said the aviation market had changed since the PFI contract was signed in 1998.
"As a result of the advent of low cost flights the costs of the contract have significantly increased," said the minister.
"Every additional passenger made the current contract more expensive.
"This is why this buy-out deal will be good value for money."