Blackpool Council, previously a 5% shareholder in the local airport, has completed the purchased the site following a £4.25m deal with previous owners Balfour Beatty. The authority will take 100% ownership the operating company, Regional and City Airports (Blackpool) Holdings Ltd.
The council owned the airport in the past but sold it to City Hopper Airports for £13m in 2004. It was subsequently resold to Balfour Beatty in 2008. Traffic peaked at over 0.5m ppa in 2007 but declined to less than 0.25m by 2014. Ryanair used the airport for services to Dublin and Gerona, but pulled out in 2009. The airfield closed later in that year after another buyer could not be found. By that time Jet2.com had two Boeing 737s based at the facility in northwest England operating 11 routes, but said it would not return if the airport reopened. The terminal was subsequently demolished and equipment and infrastructure sold to other airport operators. Commercial operations resumed on a smaller scale in 2015 when Citywing commenced flying scheduled services to the Isle of Man and Belfast. The airfield is also used for flight training and helicopter services to oil platforms in the Irish Saa.
Blackpool Airport is now part of an enterprise zone, and its purchase will be funded through a mixture of borrowing and future sales of land within the zone to new businesses. Local politicians do not envisage developing the facilities for resumption of flights by large airliners, but were seeking to protect the current helicopter operations and envisage it playing a part in the future development of the area. The business is said to be profitable at present.
Councillor Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Today is a really important day for aviation on the Fylde coast and this sale heralds a positive new dawn for Blackpool Airport. This move will protect the airport as a company, including the 30 jobs that are currently employed there. It will also allow us to ensure that the airport itself can continue to operate as an important hub that can benefit the whole region. Blackpool Airport is such a key part of having a strong local economy and it is absolutely vital that we safeguard its future and ensure that it can continue to be used as an aviation and employment hub for the long term. As a minority stakeholder, we have always retained an interest in the company continuing as an airport and serving the whole of the Fylde coast. Now as the sole owner, Blackpool residents can feel confident that we have the airport’s best interest at heart and will aim to support and grow the airport where possible.