Airport buyers must act quickly says Fylde MP

The last Jet2 flight from Blackpool Airport to Alicante takes off
The last Jet2 flight from Blackpool Airport to Alicante takes off
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Potential buyers for Blackpool airport have only a six week window to firm up any offers before its assets start to be sold off an MP has warned.

And Fylde MP Mark Menzies said any potential owner would face a huge battle if they thought they could simply use the 400 acre site as a development plot.

Speaking after he had led a House of Commons debate over the future of the Squires Gate site, Mr Menzies said any future owner was going to come under extreme scrutiny.

The airport closed on October 15 after the Balfour Beatty owned operating company, Blackpool Airport Ltd, went into liquidation owing £21m.

Mr Menzies said: “Time is of the essence for any potential buyer. I spoke to the liquidators Zolfo Cooper and they said it will be six to eight weeks before they begin to sell off the assets. People need to get on with this. “

He said anyone interested must work with the liquidators, to ensure equipment is retained on site so that the airport can continue to operate.

“That would include, for example, baggage-handling equipment, firefighting equipment and assets relating to air traffic control.

He said security equipment and scanning devices there would be owned by the Home Office and he had been given assurances that if this had to be moved from the site any new operator would have no issues getting them back.

He said he had also pressed the Government to look favourably on aid to keep the site as a viable airport for any future operators such as the Regional Air Connectivity fund which could be used to help new routes.

And he warned: “The airport is not going to be treated as a glorified brownfield site ripe for development. I and the other MPs would fight that.”

In the Westminster adjournment debate he told MPs: “I want to see what Government assistance may be on offer for those wishing to become involved in the airport’s future.

“I wrote to the Chancellor and the Transport Secretary outlining a range of potential measures to save the airport, including a possible reduction in air passenger transport duty for regional airports.

“At a subsequent meeting with the Chancellor we had continued discussions and I have to say the he listened intently.”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden also spoke in the debate and said: “The airport has the economic potential to be a crucial part of not only the sub-economy in the Fylde area but the economy of the whole of Lancashire.

“At the time of closure it was supporting 11 tenants, with important small businesses employing up to 200 people. That made up about a £20m contribution to the sub-regional gross value added.

“The role of Lancashire enterprise partnership is potentially crucial to the airport’s future, which is why I am glad that it is seriously considering what it can do to get that side of things moving.”

Blackpool North MP Paul Maynard said: “This has caused great concern on the Fylde coast for several weeks.

“It is right and proper that we debate it in the House of Commons.

“If we can secure enterprise zone status, and if the local enterprise partnership steps up to the plate and delivers on its potential, Blackpool airport will once again reopen.”