Airline Citywing 'never made a penny from Blackpool'

David Buck at Blackpool Airport
David Buck at Blackpool Airport
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The boss of failed ‘virtual’ airline Citywing claims the company never made a penny operating from Blackpool.

The Manx company went into liquidation last month following the withdrawal of the UK operating permit for Van Air Europe.

The Czech-based airline operated flights between Blackpool and Ronaldsway with Citywing acting merely as a ticket seller.

It was forced to pull out at short notice following the intervention of the Civil Aviation Authority after an incident during Storm Doris.

Citywing attempted to continue its operation for several weeks before admitting defeat.

Airlines have stepped in to pick up the company’s routes to Glasgow, Belfast and Newcastle.

But so far nobody has taken up the Blackpool route.

Citywing boss David Buck has now cast doubt over whether the route might ever restart, insisting his business made no cash on the service.

He said: “I can be open and honest and people might not believe this but in actual fact Blackpool never made a penny.

“We just did it for the benefit of the Isle of Man.

“We did not run Citywing to make lots of money.

“Citywing was about making just enough money that we could provide a service to the Isle of Man at reasonable fares.”

Citywing was the only commercial service provider to return to Blackpool following the airport’s closure in November 2014 which ended service from the likes of Jet2.

Mr Buck said the performance of the route had been improving and his company had been winning back passengers

And he believes it would have taken time to re-establish Blackpool on the aviation map following the airport’s sudden shutdown, which saw commercial services completely halted for six months.

He said: “There’s a trust issue

“When Blackpool Airport first came back it was almost like people had to train themselves to go back through Blackpool.

“Having had to go through Manchester or Liverpool we had to let them know we were back and back to stay.

“Last year we grew the numbers by 20 per cent.

“In the first few months of this year we had sales 20 per cent of where we were the previous year.

“We changed our marketing strategy and it was working quite well.”

Mr Buck did give some hope to those wishing to see a return of commercial services at Squires Gate, suggesting a different firm might be able to make a Blackpool operation work.

He said: “Different people with a different business model might be able to make it more than we did.”