Council move to take over Blackpool airport's running is welcomed, but 'should have happened sooner'

The Labour-run council's move to take over the daily running of Blackpool Airport should have come earlier, one councillor has said.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 3:30 pm

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the council’s Conservative opposition, said the decision could make it easier for companies to come in to offer new commercial flights.

And the campaign group set up to bring holiday flights back to Blackpool, Save Blackpool Airport, said the council should look to attract new partners.

The last passenger flights ended in 2017 as Balfour Beatty sold the airport to the council. Previously Citywing and Jet2 had operated from Squires Gate.

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Blackpool Airport. The day to day running has been taken in-house by Blackpool Council

However, the previous owners blamed the Jet2 holiday flights for the annual losses at the airport which ran at £2m a year. Citywing went into liquidation in 2017 after its partner Van Air Europe lost its UK licence and no commercial firm has come forward since then with an offer to replace them.

Coun Williams said: “This change of management structure has been on the cards for two years and it should’ve happened much sooner.

“The impact of Blackpool Council managing the day-to-day operations of the airport will be to provide a smoother line of communication between the board of directors and the in-house management team.

"This will help to shape the board’s vision of the future of the airport and it provides a platform to create a more sustainable forward plan in regard to it’s development.

Coun Tony Williams

“It will also make it easier to start dialogue on a direct basis with new partners in regard to expanding air traffic from the airport without the involvement of an outside management company.

“This is a good step forward to safeguard this vital asset and manage it in a direct and productive way.”

But Rob Blower from Save Blackpool Airport said Blackpool Council should follow Teeside Council's example and invest in commercial operations instead of just concentrating on businesses at the airport's enterprise zone.

He said: "I’m not sure what the current take up is with enterprise zone, but I am guessing that the ongoing success of Teeside International Airport will have made Blackpool Council sit up and take notice, and rightly so.

"The Mayor and Combined Authorities at Teeside there have built their own 'enterprise zone' within the airports footprint with a firm promise to invest the profits from it directly back into the Airport.

"This ongoing success must have Teeside residents thinking they’ve hit the jackpot, when in effect all it has taken is the right person at the right time, with the right ideas.Lets hope our Council take their blinkers off and follow suit."

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