The iconic Red Arrows will not be taking part in Blackpool’s Air Show next year, it has been confirmed.
The spectacular display team performed to hundreds of thousands of people who packed the Prom in August this year as part of a bumper Air Show.
But the Red Arrows will be in North America next summer for a nine-week tour instead
The tour is expected to generate £2.5bn in direct foreign investment for the UK.
But the diary clash is a hammer blow for tourism bosses in Blackpool who are now working hard to secure a fitting replacement.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We are aware that the Red Arrows will not be performing in the UK during August and September next year and we are now exploring various options.
“Rest assured we will be staging another fantastic free two-day air show as an integral part of our flagship events programme for 2019.”
Toby Watkins, spokesman for RAF Media and Commerce, said: “I can confirm the Red Arrows are going to North America at the end of July and will be there during August and September.
“They will not be appearing at the Blackpool or Southport air shows.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Red Arrows would display across the Americas, reaching millions of people and showcasing the very best of British aviationm during the nine-week tour.
He said: “Our Red Arrows fly the flag for Britain across the globe, both in the skies and on the ground, and this tour will not only showcase their teamwork and aviation excellence, but also promote our great nation to billions of people across the world.
“After an incredible year celebrating RAF100, it seems only fitting that the Red Arrows prepare to illuminate the skies of our closest allies in 2019, celebrating and strengthening our incredible relationship with the US.”
The Red Arrows’ return to the US will mark the first significant deployment to North America in a generation, with the team last touring in the country in 1993.
Air Vice-Marshal Warren James, the senior RAF officer responsible for the Red Arrows, said: “The deployment of the Red Arrows will demonstrate the global reach and capability of the RAF and our continuing support of the United Kingdom’s defence and commerce industries.”