Fears have taken flight on the Fylde once again over the future of Blackpool Airport after its owners put up dozens of items for auction.
Balfour Beatty, which owns the Squires Gate operation, has announced a whole raft of equipment from airside and the terminal – used when big commercial airlines such as Jet2 used the runways – are now up for sale at an auction set for next month.
Included in the sale are the Airport ADF machines which were used for the controversial £10 Airport Development Fund which caused so many complaints from customers.
Other items include two of the 6X6 fire engines, de-icing trucks driveable conveyors and baggage transporters,seating and trolleys x-ray machines and security equipment.
The owners say none of the items are crucial for existing air operations and the sale should not impact on future operations, including the return of larger commercial airlines.
But campaign groups and political figures have today expressed deep concerns over the move which they say could put off commercial clients.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “I find the timing of this ‘auction’ quite bizarre and singularly inappropriate coming straight after the welcome news of CityWing’s return, which I and others strongly pressed for and welcomed.
“I will be pressing Balfour Beatty for an urgent explanation as to how this action fits in with their commitments over CityWing and other potential carrier opportunities. I will also be urging both Blackpool and Fylde Councils to press Balfour Beatty for the fullest explanation and in the strongest possible terms urgently.”
Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said: “I am sure local people will be disappointed to hear Balfour Beatty is selling off some of the equipment essential to Blackpool functioning as the commercial airport we all want to see for the Fylde.
“It underlines the need to find new owners for the airport as soon as possible to develop a coherent, profitable and sustainable future vision for the airport.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “I recently visited the airport with some local councillors and we were told the management was expecting to auction off some ageing and obsolete items.
“However, I understand at the same time they are also investing in newer infrastructure items, such as a new fire engine for the site. I do, however, want to make sure that the items which are being sold off do not impact on the ability of the airport to reopen at short notice to regular scheduled overseas flights.”
Rob Blower, from the Save Blackpool Airport Group, said: “This must not be allowed to happen.
“They are essentially asset-stripping the place. Just one of the items alone, the Houchin GPUs, are needed to start jets, so with these gone, how on earth are they going to encourage airlines to return?
“Also, once the 6x6 fire tenders and relative fire equipment is gone, they aren’t going to be granted category 6/7, so again, no commercial passenger jets.”