Aerial View of Blackpool Airport, 2019

Blackpool Airport Today

Blackpool Airport, owned by Blackpool Council, brings management and day-to-day airport operations back in-house.

Blackpool Council now Manage Blackpool Airport

Blackpool Airport Operations Ltd has been awarded Aerodrome Licence and Air Navigations Service Provider Certification to assume control of operations at Blackpool Airport.

In an historic occasion on 1 November 2021, staff at Blackpool Airport gathered to celebrate the official transfer of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licences back into the name and control of Blackpool Airport Operations Limited (BAOL).

Celebrating transition day at Blackpool Airport
Staff at Blackpool Airport celebrate Transition Day – front centre Sally Franks Transition Manager and Cllr Campbell Chair of BAOL Board celebrate with the staff.

Cllr Campbell is Chair of the Board at BAOL. She said, “We set off on this journey recognising the size and complexity of the task ahead. So we enlisted the help of aviation specialist, Transition Manager, Sally Franks to lead the team through the transition period. The whole team has done an outstanding job, working tirelessly with the CAA and the outgoing management company to ensure a smooth and seamless transition of operations.

“The purpose of the event was to say a big thank you to all our staff and to recognise all their hard work. Blackpool Airport is back in control of its own destiny and we’re excited to be at the threshold of a new era where we can build a bigger, brighter, more profitable future.”

Behind the scenes…

It’s following a lengthy review process and intensive work behind the scenes by the Airport and Blackpool Council transition team over the last six months. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has now issued an Aerodrome Licence and Air Navigations Service Provider (ANSP) Certification to BAOL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Blackpool Council.  

The award of the CAA licences to BAOL allows the Company to take direct control of the Airport management. It’s the first step in achieving the airport’s longer term goals which are to:

  • maximise opportunities for growth as part of the Enterprise Zone;
  • achieve a greater level of direct operational control and flexibility to take sound investment decisions;
  • be more efficient and cost effective; and
  • ensure a long-term, sustainable future for one of England’s oldest airports and a key strategic asset for the Fylde Coast.

Holding the licences in the name of the Airport company rather than the management contractor is the norm in the aviation industry. It also brings Blackpool Airport into line with its peers in the sector. BAOL have worked closely with the CAA for this process to be completed.

Blackpool Council reacquired Blackpool Airport from Balfour Beatty in September 2017 for £4.25m via its ownership of Blackpool Airport Operations Ltd and Blackpool Airport Property Ltd. The move saved it from the risk of permanent closure and secured its long-term future as part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

To date Blackpool Council has invested nearly £2m in the upgrade and maintenance of essential infrastructure, with further significant investment planned.

Developing Blackpool Airport

Blackpool Council has been successful in its bid for expert help and support with the future development of Blackpool Airport, from the Airfield Development Advisory Fund.

Published January 2021

Aerial view of Blackpool Airport
Aerial view of Blackpool Airport

The Airfield Development Advisory Fund (ADAF) provides eligible UK airfields and associated businesses access to professional and business advice to support their future development. The advice offered will include bespoke, specialist assistance on activities such as:

  • planning and conservation policy,
  • accountancy,
  • business model development
  • and innovation.

The advisory fund is managed by the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority. It’s administered by ICF, a global consulting and digital services provider. Blackpool will receive up to five days professional guidance and advisory services across a range of disciplines, by UK based experts pre-selected by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Blackpool Council applied for consultancy advice to assist with commercial marketing activity to help to:

  • secure new business,
  • assess and identify viable routes,
  • identify potential operators
  • and look at partner airfields.

The council also seeks support with

  • virtual aircraft control,
  • tower operations and technology,
  • airspace modernisation strategy,
  • alternative power generation
  • and electric aircraft operations.

Cllr Gillian Campbell is Chair of the Airport Board (BAOL). She said, “The masterplan for the airport has identified a range of viable potential business streams for the airport. We’re currently exploring various avenues of activity that would secure a long term, sustainable future for Blackpool Airport.

“Additional expert advice to assist us with our strategic business planning will be hugely beneficial in helping us to realise both our limitations, and our ambitions for the airport.”

Advice will be given to the airport before March 2021. It will help to shape the airport’s business plan over the next 12 months.

Operating at Blackpool Airport…

Hangar 3 Blackpool Limited are North West England’s largest independent Handling Agent for independent Aircraft and Charter Broker. Operating from their own facility at the Airport the team have extensive experience in independent Aircraft operations. They arrange charters for clients worldwide in a safe, hygienic and secure manner.

Covid Testing – get Fit to Fly

Hangar 3, together with affiliated partner DAM Healthcare, are the first North West Airport to offer Covid 19 Rapid PCR Assay Tests (RT-PCR). They’re carried out in the Private Medical Facility at Hangar 3 Private Aircraft Facility, daily by appointment.

The tests are done by trained health professionals and include analysis for SARS COV 2 which is the virus which causes COVID19. Along with the results is a Fit to Fly or Fit to Work Certificate.  Test results can be available from 8 – 48 hours subject to requirements. Home visits and a courier service are also available.

Hangar 3 have put this practice into place to support the growing number of independent aircraft movements at Blackpool Airport. But all travellers are welcome if they need certification from wherever they embark in the North West.

Also, ‘Arrival Testing’ is available for passengers entering the UK independently. It will reduce the current quarantine period (outside travel corridors) to 5 days – hopefully to less as the year progresses.

Master Planning the Airport

In October 2019, Blackpool Council was looking to appoint an architectural consultant partner. Under a framework agreement they will work with the Blackpool Airport team. Initial feasibility studies will be undertaken at the airport, as part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

Blackpool Council reacquired Blackpool Airport in September 2017 via its ownership of Blackpool Airport Operations Ltd (BAOL) and Blackpool Airport Property Ltd (BAPL), to secure its long term future as part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.

Work Begins on Concept Designs

Working with the airport team, the successful architect will initially be required to undertake a number of short feasibility studies and produce concept designs.

These will examine options for the provision of new and replacement hangars and determine the best locations for new airport parking aprons. In the long term these will be required to facilitate the future development of the Enterprise Zone and the proposed relocation of the airport’s operational facilities in accordance with the Enterprise Zone Masterplan.

The initial phase of study and design work will build on the master-planning work previously undertaken by Mott McDonald and York Aviation in 2018. There may be additional work as and when required, as part of a framework agreement.

The contract start date is expected to start 1st December 2019 and the feasibility studies and concept design (worked up to RIBA Stage 2) is required by 31st March 2020.

Towards Next Generation Development

Cllr Gillian Campbell is Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council and Chair of Blackpool Airport. She said, “The appointment of an architectural consultancy is a significant step towards seeing next generation development on site.

“The studies will help to inform the airport team in decision making and prioritisation of potential future investment at the airport.

“The airport is in urgent need of regeneration and it is important that we get it right from the outset. It’s important that existing businesses on the airport are supported. At the same time improving and building a strong and sustainable future in aviation. We are securing long term, skilled jobs for the local community.”

Blackpool Council buys back Blackpool Airport site

  • £4.25m deal buys the airport site back for the council
  • Blackpool Council had previously sold the site for £13m in 2004
  • Council Leader Simon Blackburn calls it a “positive new dawn” for the airport site

Blackpool Council completed the purchase of the Blackpool Airport site on 13.9.17. The company is back in full public ownership for the first time in 13 years.

Road signs directing the way to Blackpool Airport
Road signs directing the way to Blackpool Airport

The council was previously a 5% shareholder and signed a £4.25m deal with previous owners Balfour Beatty. This enables them to fully take over the operating company Regional and City Airports (Blackpool) Holdings Ltd.

The purchase will be funded through a mixture of prudential borrowing and future sales of identified land within the enterprise zone to new businesses.

A full business case exploring the potential future for the airport is being developed.

100% Ownership

The Council has acquired all shares in Regional and City Airports (Blackpool) Holdings Ltd. It takes over 100% ownership of the airport site.

Cllr Simon Blackburn is Leader of Blackpool Council. He said: “It’s a really important day for aviation on the Fylde Coast. 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 available there. We can ensure that the airport continues to operate as an important hub that benefits the whole region.

“Blackpool Airport is such a key part of having a strong local economy. It’s absolutely vital that we safeguard its future. We need to ensure it can continue to be used as an aviation and employment hub.

Safeguarding Commercial Activities

“We do not envisage the return of large scale passenger planes to the airport. The purpose of this acquisition is to safeguard the helicopter and other commercial airside activities that take place. We can build upon them and deliver our overall objective of creating up to 5,000 jobs.

“Blackpool Airport is the largest area of land in our thriving Enterprise Zone. Buying it will help us to make our Enterprise Zone one of the most successful in the country.

“As the current company stands, Blackpool Airport is profitable. As such we can be confident that the money for the purchase can be repaid.

Support and Grow

“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. We will aim to support and grow the airport where possible.

“People can be confident that we will retain the current operating staff. We will also explore opportunities for private companies with aviation interests to invest so that it can grow in the future. But this is not about trying to bring jumbo jets back to the airport anytime soon.”

Blackpool Airport in the Past

This airport was one of Britain’s first aviation sites.

Blackpool Council last owned the airport in 2004. It was sold to City Hopper Airports for a total of £13m. Then it was sold on to Balfour Beatty in 2008.

The airport was placed into administration in 2014, closing temporarily before reopening with reduced capacity.

In early 2016 the terminal buildings were demolished, and are now the site of the Lancashire Energy College.

Blackpool Airport Terminal building, demolished in 2016
Blackpool Airport Terminal building, demolished in 2016

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7 thoughts on “Blackpool Airport Today”

  1. dont understand why it was sold off in the first place ,only to be bought back albeit for a lesser fee?surely its an asset to have a international airport in your backyard/

  2. Georgina Dearnley

    People from around the North West would love to be able to fly in and out of Blackpool, as we used to. It’s a long way to Manchester and flying from Blackpool was popular.
    I thought the town motto was “Progress” . If Blackpool council want to play with the big boys, (and they do have big plans) they will have to do better than expect visitors – National or International, only to travel to the northern coast by road or rail.

  3. Now Blackpool ‘ international’ airport needs Planes on the ground, ready to take passengers to European destinations!

    1. I should imagine they are on Blackpool Airports own website. Or at least the address is so you could write to them there.

  4. Great to hear that Blackpool Airport has succeeded in getting the consultation which proves that it has some kind of future. A great loss for the Fylde when commercial passenger flights ended. When I was a Blackburn resident, I travelled from and to Blackpool Airport twice on holiday and found the experience hugely positive. Whilst realising that we’ll probably never be able to do that again, it would be great to see the airport successful.

  5. It is vital that Blackpool Airport continues as a normal airport for the local community , Manchester ,Liverpool airports are too far to travel for some citizens when they have to be at the airport very early in the morning and travelling time can be a nightmare ,whereas Blackpool is local, friendly , local people in charge – it can be the best

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