The first commercial passenger service to return to Blackpool Airport touched down in bright sunshine brigning with it high hopes for the future.
Isle of Man based carrier Citywing flew into Squires Gate at 9.50am bringing passengers from the island and from Northern Ireland.
The service re-established the links between the three destinations which flew more than 16,000 passengers a year before the closure of the airport in October last year.
Citywing managing director David Buck, who was on the first flight with his family, said he was delighted to resume business with Blackpool and to be able to connect the three communities once more.
He said Citywing will be operating two flights a day every day of the week for the forseeable future and would be promoting tourism between the three destinations.
He said: “It’s been quite a journey to get the service back and we are very grateful for the help given to us by Balfour Beatty, Blackpool Council, the Isle of Man Government, the Civil Aviation Authority and security company Quelltex who have helped us train for the security equipment we have bought to reinstate the service.
“It is fantastic to be back. There are a few elements still to be tweaked but it is great for the business and great for the communities.
“When the airport closed giving us two weeks notice it was obviously worrying for our business but also for our passengers and we had to work hard to help those who had flights booked.
“Blackpool is great because a lot of our passengers told us they did not like the extra drive to Liverpool or Manchester, did not like the high car parking charges and loved the quick and easy transfer here at Blackpool Airport.”
Citywing is operating from the airport’s former administration offices where a new passenger lounge has been installed. The former international arrivals and departures lounge is currently disused and much of its equipment has been put up for auction by the airport’s owners Balfour Beatty.
One of the passengers waiting to take the return flight to the Isle of Man was Time and Tide North West property developer John Asplin from Kendal in Cumbria.
He said: “It is great to have Citywing back at Blackpool. It is so much more convenient for me to fly from here rather than having to go to Manchester. I hope it encourages other operators to come in. The flights that Ryanair used to have to Stanstead were also great. It was a good commuter hub for us.”
Newspaper group editor William Allen had flown in from Belfast on the first flight and was the only passenger who went the whole way from Ireland via Isle of Man to Blakcpool.
He said: “It was a great flight, really smooth. It took about 40 minutes to get to the Isle of Man and then another 40 to get here. It is great because you can fly over for business and then get back the same day.”