The owners of Blackpool International Airport are in talks to sell it, just 18 months after commercial passenger flights were resumed there.
The airport had been closed by owners Balfour Beatty in October 2014, having made a loss for several years despite servicing over 235,000 passengers in 2013 and having a history dating back to 1909 when 200,000 spectators watched Frenchman Henri Farman take to the air at Squires Gate at a meeting of the Aero Club of the United Kingdom.
The airport opened commercially in 1946, usually to the Isle Of Man and other destinations in mainland Britain but also to places like Spain from time to time and the likes of the Queen and Margaret Thatcher had used it.
When it closed in 2014, Blackpool Council blamed budget airline Jet2, with councillor John Jones saying: “This parting was somewhat inevitable and we want to place on record our frustration that more has not been done by Jet2, in particular, to make the airport work for all parties. It is pretty clear that we have a situation where a successful airline is operating in an unsuccessful airport.”
However, he did also state that: “interest in the site remains high with a number of parties expressing an interest with a range of proposals. We also feel more could have been done by the airport operators to try to bring in new routes and airlines.”
And so it turned out in April 2015 when commercial passenger flights resumed from Blackpool Airport through Citywing’s daily services to and from the Isle Of Man and Belfast. It also acts as a base for the North West Air Ambulance, some local flying schools and short helicopter flights to the oil and gas platforms in Morecambe Bay and Liverpool.
The news today comes that Balfour Beatty are looking to sell their share in the ownership of the site, with a spokesman saying: “We have begun very early discussions with a number of organisations regarding the potential sale of Balfour Beatty’s 95% share in Blackpool Airport. Blackpool Council are aware of these early discussions.”
Local MP Mark Menzies responded by saying: “It has always been my view that Blackpool Airport is an integral piece of the Fylde coast’s transport infrastructure and I was extremely disappointed when commercial holiday operators ceased flying from the resort in 2014.
“While it is now operating again on a limited basis it may be that it is time for a new owner with a clear business plan which will make proper use of this valuable asset. However, let me be clear, the site should only be bought by someone planning to operate and hopefully reinvigorate the airport.”