Protest at Blackpool airport auction

Protesters from Save Blackpool Airport on the streets outside Squires Gate on the day Balffour Beatty auctioned off airport equipment.
Protesters from Save Blackpool Airport on the streets outside Squires Gate on the day Balffour Beatty auctioned off airport equipment.
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Campaigners took to the streets near Blackpool Airport to protest against an auction they say will damage its future.

Members of Save Blackpool Airport gathered near the entrance to the Squires Gate complex, handing out leaflets to passers-by.

The group of 20, wearing high visibility jackets for safety reasons, are urging Blackpool and Fylde residents to keep the pressure on airport owners Balfour Beatty to bring back full commercial flights.

They fear that yesterday’s auction of airport terminal equipment will make it impossible for international jet flights to return to Squires Gate and hasten its decline.

Chairman of the group Rob Blower said: “We have been handing out leaflets this week and we have had a great reception from local people.

“It seems many of them do not realise that just because Citywing are back operating at the airport, it does not mean that the big airliners can come back.

“We know Balfour Beatty say it will not affect any future commercial operations, but once the equipment is sold off we fear that no operator will want to come back here.”

Squires Gate councillor Christian Cox was among the campaigners and said: “I am here to support the airport as it is a vital part of Blackpool history and a vital transport hub. They are selling off a lot of items and say it won’t affect its future, but it is hard to be convinced.”

Campaigner Pam Greenwood went into the airport on the viewing day for the auction to see the scale of the sale.

She said: “They are selling off everything from the bins to the fire engines and baggage carousel. I am gutted, it’s a travesty. They say it is outdated equipment but it will cost any operator who wants to come in millions to replace all of that. That is surely going to put people off.”

Group vice-chairman Danny Nicholson said: “It is really important that people get behind us. We want to see commercial aviation returning not development across the site such as the building of more housing no one can afford.”

Balfour Beatty has repeatedly stated that the sale was of obsolete equipment and would not affect the airport’s future. A spokesman said: “All future opportunities will be considered on a commercial basis and the operational resources required to facilitate the prospective airline. This auction will not deter any potential airline from operating at the airport.”

As the auction was closing, there had been more than 70 bids for the Carmichael Cobra fire tender, with the highest at £33,100, the Simon Gloster fire truck had 50 bids and was at £12,225, the Houchin GPU generators used for starting jet engines had 80 bids at £12,050 and £9,500.