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Questions over Blackpool Airport

The Airport site at Squires Gate. Picture : Google

Councillors have questioned why the latest report into the future of Blackpool Airport fails to match the ambition of previous blueprints for the hub.

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Conservative councillors said reports drafted 15 years ago predicted by 2020 the airport would have helped create around 2,500 jobs and be boosting the local economy by £90m a year.
Coun Paul Galley told a meeting of the council’s tourism, economy and resources committee, the masterplan had been produced by the council’s former regeneration partner ReBlackpool.
He asked why the latest report into the future of the airport, produced by consultants York Aviation, forecast a much less ambitious future for the airfield which was bought by the council in September 2017.
This includes building on existing offshore helicopter operations, providing aircraft repair and maintenance services and niche services for private jets.
But there are no plans for holiday flights to return.
Coun Galley said: “What questions did we ask of York Aviation? Did we ask questions around an airport with no ambition, or open-ended questions?”
Coun Maxine Callow said: “I’m very disappointed with the way the airport has gone.
“If we are hoping to get big conferences here, particularly from abroad, a lot of those people will want to fly in and we haven’t got an airport that can cope with that.”
Alan Cavill, director of regeneration at Blackpool Council, said the airport would be used as a catalyst to create jobs through the Enterprise Zone while there was at least 10 years left in the lifespan of the offshore services.
But he said passenger numbers were too low for a budget airline model to work at Blackpool.
He said airports such as Liverpool and Manchester paid budget airlines millions of pounds a year to land there, and made their profits out of shops, restaurants and parking.
Mr Cavill said: “When Jet2.com flew out of Blackpool, we had around 300,000 passengers a year. The York Aviation report says we need 1.5 million passengers a year to get our money back.
“Others say we need around 700,000 passengers. We are a long way short of that.”
He added that charter flights might work at Blackpool, but most people now travel using low cost scheduled flights.

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