New operator of Blackpool Airport planning for better days
Blackpool Airport has had no commercial traffic since March 2017 and that situation seems unlikely to change anytime soon, but its local council owners are so confident in its future that they have decided to take over the management of UK gateway.
The decision, announced today, means that Blackpool Council’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Blackpool Airport Operations Ltd (BAOL), will take over the running of the airport from Regional and City Airports (RCA) later this year.
The council acquired the airport from Balfour Beatty for £4.25 million in September 2017 to save it from the risk of permanent closure and to secure its long-term future as part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.
BAOL’s chair of the Board, councillor Gillian Campbell, said: “The tender process for operational and management contracts has now come to an end and the Board has made the decision to bring the airport licences in-house.
“BAOL and Blackpool Council thank RCA for all their hard work over the past few years are now working with them to facilitate a smooth transition of airport operations.
“We should not underestimate the size and complexity of the task ahead of us, but with the support and dedication of the airport staff, the Board have every confidence in the team to take our airport forward to a brighter, more sustainable and profitable future.”
The council states that the move is “an early step” in helping it achieve some of their longer-term goals for the airport, which include “maximising opportunities for growth”; becoming more efficient and cost effective; and ensuring a sustainable future for one of England’s oldest airports and a key strategic asset for the Fylde Coast.
The £72 million Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, approved in early 2018, is one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the UK and incorporates a 144-hectare area that includes the airport, Blackpool Retail Park, Blackpool Business Park and surrounding land.
Talking about the proposed development, Campbell, said: “The masterplan for the airport has identified a range of viable potential business streams for the airport over the next few years and we are currently exploring various avenues of activity that would secure a long-term, sustainable future for Blackpool Airport.”
To date Blackpool Council has invested nearly £2m in the upgrade and maintenance of essential infrastructure, with further significant investment planned.
Blackpool arguably enjoyed its most successful period as a commercial airport between 2000 and 2014, with passenger numbers peaking at 550,000 in 2007 when its route network included Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast, Prague and Southampton.