Aerial View of Blackpool Airport, 2019

Blackpool Airport Today

Today, Blackpool Airport operates as an important hub to benefit the whole region. It’s a key part of the local economy and as sole owner Blackpool Council ensures that it can continue to be used as an aviation and employment hub for the Fylde coast for the long term.

Helicopter and other commercial airside activities continue whilst building on these to deliver the overall objective of creating up to 5,000 jobs on the Enterprise Zone site. These are some of the activities which take place there today:

  • NHV Services serving oil and gas platforms on the Energy Coast
  • The North West Air Ambulance
  • Fixed wing and helicopter flying schools
  • Executive private jets and bespoke aviation solutions
  • Various fixed wing and rotary maintenance organisations
  • Bespoke fire training
  • Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone

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.

Developing the Future of Blackpool Airport

The address for Blackpool Airport is: Squires Gate Lane, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY4 2QY

Contact them: via their website

Blackpool Council previously 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. It 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

Blackpool Council completed the purchase of the Blackpool Airport site on 13.9.17. The company is now back in full public ownership for the first time in 13 years. Management and day-to-day airport operations came back in-house in November 2021.

2017: 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
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 is funded through a mixture of prudential borrowing and future sales of identified land within the enterprise zone to new businesses.

100% Ownership

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

Cllr Simon Blackburn was Leader of Blackpool Council at the time. 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’ve always retained an interest in the company continuing as an airport and serving the whole of the Fylde coast. 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.”

2019: 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. Cassidy + Ashton was appointed by Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone as architectural consultant. They are undertaking a feasibility study for the provision of new hangar space and ancillary accommodation at Blackpool Airport.

Work Begins on Concept Designs

These studies 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.

2021: Blackpool Council now Manage Blackpool Airport

Blackpool Airport, owned by Blackpool Council since 2017, brought management and day-to-day airport operations back in-house in November 2021.

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

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…

This followed a lengthy six month review process and intensive work behind the scenes by the Airport and Blackpool Council transition team. 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.

Aerial view of Blackpool Airport
Aerial view of Blackpool Airport

2022 at Blackpool Airport

It’s been a busy 2022/23 winter for Blackpool Airport with a number of high profile passengers landing on site. From Premier League football teams and members of The Royal Family to the Prime Minister, who came to announce a £40m Levelling Up investment in a new Multiversity campus in the heart of Blackpool.

Additionally, the airport has invested in a new VHF Direction Finder and successfully passed another audit from the CAA. New managing director Steve Peters is now putting in place the 10 year masterplan to grow the profile of the airport, upgrade existing infrastructure and creating a long-term, commercially sustainable, future.

2023: Plans unveiled for five new hangars at Blackpool Airport

On 25 September 2023, plans were released which could see the addition of for five new hangars at Blackpool Airport. It would be the first new development at the airport in over 15 years. 

As part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, outline planning consent is being sought for three 20,000 sq. ft hangars. They will be suitable for light general aviation and small planes, including small corporate turboprops and warbird aircraft. The application also includes two hangars capable of housing larger planes such as a Boeing 737 or Airbus A321 for maintenance, repair and overhaul activities. 

The hangars would be developed at the east side of the airport on land owned by Blackpool Council. The sites for the new smaller hangars are south and east of the current JMAX hangar. The site for the larger hangars is to the west of JMAX.  

The application also includes a new road off Amy Johnson Way to access both sets of hangars, plus a small 6,000 sq. ft commercial business unit fronting Amy Johnson Way opposite Chorley Group garages. 

Regeneration Plans

The development of the new Airport East hangars signals a period of regeneration for the airport and surrounding land. It’s part of the main Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone masterplan. The updated masterplan involves developing a general aviation, training, maintenance and helicopter base at the east of the airport.  

Creating new, modern hangars at the east side of the airport could allow some of the airport’s current occupiers to move across to more sustainable purpose-built facilities. Plus creating space for new fixed based customers. 

A corporate jet hangar, executive aircraft handling facility hangar, airport administrative facilities and in the longer term a large apron and additional hangar facilities are also planned for the areas at the west and centre of the airport. Plans relating to other critical infrastructure at the airport including the Air Traffic Control tower and rescue and firefighting services will also follow later this year. 

Second Busiest in the Country

Blackpool Airport is the second busiest general aviation airport in the country. There were almost 30,000 aero club and private flights take off and landings in 2022. The new general aviation hub will support that flying community.  

The development is part of the third phase of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone. Once the new hangars are occupied, 10 hectares of land around the north of Blackpool Airport can be unlocked for a new digital and technology quarter called Silicon Sands. Silicon Sands will include a series of data centres and commercial business units, powered using sustainable energy and benefiting from a district heat network for the surrounding units.  

It’s a complex task to redesign a working airport while keeping it fully operational and that can’t happen overnight. But strides are being made that will help protect the airport and help to make Blackpool better.

Developing the Hangars

Detailed planning permission is being sought for the new access roads. Outline planning permission is being sought for the associated hangars.  

If approved, the hangar plots will be available for developers and occupiers to build over several years on a phased basis with enabling work to build the new access roads starting in the next six months. 

Support to build the new access roads to the hangars, as well as the new link road to Amy Johnson Way, has been provided through a £7.5m grant from HM Government Town Fund. 

Blackpool Airport is already a thriving hub for business, medevac and general aviation. It offers aircraft handling, parking, engineering and refuelling services, flight and instrument training as well as having facilities for executive lounges and crew briefing.  

Over 37,000 flights took off and landed at Blackpool Airport in 2022.  

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 purchase saved the airport from risk of permanent closure and secured its long-term future as part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.  

Blackpool Airport in the Past

Did you know? This airport was one of Britain’s first aviation sites? Before it opened, the site for Blackpool Municipal Aerodrome was at what’s now Blackpool Zoo!

The land for Squires Gate Aerodrome/Blackpool Airport was originally owned by Squire Clifton. He’d wanted to build his own zoo on the land – and the animals were actually ordered! Before the war, the land house an airfield used for air shows in 1909 and 1910. It was the site of Clifton Park Racecourse from 1911 to 1914, then the King’s Lancashire Military Convalescent Home from 1914 to 1924. Quite a mixed bag!

Various ad-hoc flying had taken place until 1932 when Blackpool and West Coast Air Services set up a small airport to rival the one at Stanley Park. Then in 1935 Blackpool Corporation bought the airport site from the Clifton Estate. In 1936 the Ministry of Transport recommended that flying from Stanley Park should cease and be developed at Squires Gate. In 1937 three runways and four Bellman hangars were built.

During World War II…

In 1939 Blackpool Airport was taken over as an RAF Coastal Command Training Station. Then in 1940 during WWII, the RAF began to use Lockheed Liberator B-30 aircraft as ferries between Montreal and Blackpool Squires Gate. And so it became the UK’s first transatlantic airport.

The RAF left Blackpool in 1946, although Fighter Control Unit 3621 was based at Squires Gate until the 1950s. The Air Ministry transferred the airfield to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in August 1946, and so Blackpool Airport came into being.

And afterwards

The first terminal building opened for civilian use in the old, wooden NAAFI Canteen on 6 September 1946. British European Airways began scheduled flights from Manchester via Blackpool to the Isle of Man with the first flight on 6 September 1946.

In conjunction with Northwest Airline, other scheduled flights soon began, including to London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Southport and Glasgow.

A 1949 redesign aimed to make it look less like an RAF Station. With a public enclosure, restaurant and lounge bar it became more attractive and by 1950, more than 25,000 people were passing through a year.

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8 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

    Sandgrownan
    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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