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 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
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.
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).
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.
Recently 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.
Blackpool Airport in the Past
Did you know that this airport was one of Britain’s first aviation sites?
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.
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.
- Thank you to Nick Moore’s fascinating History of Blackpool for this information about how the airport began. Want to know even more? Follow this link and head to Page 914.
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