Council moves in to allay fears over Airport auction

The last Jet2 flight from Blackpool Airport to Alicante takes off
The last Jet2 flight from Blackpool Airport to Alicante takes off

Blackpool Council has said the auction of Airport equipment by its owners will not affect it future or prevent further commercial flights from returning to Squires Gate.

Airport supporters and Blackpool and Fylde MPs have expressed concern over the sale of significant items from the airport on the Peaker Pattinson website.

The sale includes fire tender trucks, machines for starting jet engines, a fuel bowser and x-ray machines and equipment from the terminal.

Groups such as the Save Blackpool Airport group have said a sell-off of equipment will deter potential operators similar to Jet2 which quit Squires Gate when it closed in October.

But Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council’s director of place, said: “We can understand why people would be concerned by the sale of equipment, however, they need not be.

“The most important thing to say is the sale of certain unused or obsolete equipment does not in any way change the commitment from Balfour Beatty and Blackpool Council to pursue opportunities for commercial passenger flights at Blackpool Airport.

“As people know, we have just confirmed the re-introduction of CityWing’s Belfast and Isle of Man route which is excellent news for inbound tourism.

“We are assured the facilities are in place for them to resume flights and the equipment they require is available.This will also be the case if further flights are introduced – it is in everyone’s interests that they are.”

But the council’s conservative leader Coun Tony Williams said the sell off would damage the chances of attracting large commercial operators once more.

He said: “Its quite clear that Balfour Beatty have no intention of actively seeking out a jet operator and I believe that this has been their intention all along.

“In fact I’d go as far to say that they would prefer that the Airport closes down altogether.

“They obviously have a hidden agenda and I am amazed and disgusted that the council, who actually have a representative on the Airport board have been so quiet and sat on their hands during the whole disgraceful saga.

“The area has now been designated as an Enterprise Zone and, instead of selling off necessary assets, Balfour Beatty should be putting their money where their mouth is and start supporting the town.

“I have been told that the x-ray machines which are up for auction are worth around half a million pounds second hand.

“They need three to operate, two for passengers and one for luggage so you can see it will not be cheap to replace them.”

Labour Coun John Jones, who holds the portfolio for the Airport on the council, said people should not get too concerned about the auction.

He said: “Obviously people will jump to conclusions when the see the sale of the equipment but, from what I understand, the equipment being auctioned is out-dated.

“Balfour Beatty has invested in some new fire safety kit to allow the Citywing flights to return. I spoke to them last week and they said they were totally committed to the future of the airport.

“Coun Williams comments are not helpful. We should all be working together to promote the airport and not run it down. The council has been working hard to secure the future of the Airport, it was instrumental in putting the Enterprise Zone bid together and from the outset worked hard to make sure the runway was saved.”