Business at Blackpool Airport is taking off once more after latest figures show passenger numbers soared by 27,000 last year.
And with Jet2 set to fly to two new destinations - Menorca from next month and Reus near Barcelona in 2015 – hopes are high that numbers will continue to rise.
The figures from the Civil Aviation Authority show that 262,280 passengers flew via Squires Gate in 2013.
The airport had hoped to add 20,000 to the 235,191 who flew in 2012.
But due to a strong performance from airline Jet2 and its three new routes for that year to Ibiza, Lanzarote and Dalaman, it beat the previous year’s total by 27,089 – 11.9 per cent up.
At the peak of the aviation market in 2007, Blackpool was handling more than 500,000 passengers so the new results show it is on the up once more after being hit by the recession.
Losses at the airport have also declined to around the £2m mark
Airport Director Paul Rankin said: “We are delighted to see the rise in passenger numbers and particularly pleased to see all the routes to our established sunshine destinations doing so well.
“The load factor on the aircraft is around 95 per cent which shows they are well supported by passengers.
“The new routes started last year Ibiza, Lanzarote and Dalaman are also performing very well, it’s very encouraging.
“We are clearly looking forward to the coming year and seeing our new route to Menorca start.
“The increases have not made a big difference to reducing our losses which come from the cost of facilitating flights with air traffic control and fire fighting facility costs for example.
“Balfour Beatty have invested close to £30m since they bought the airport and are continuing to do so but obviously they need to see a realisation on their investment.
“Local people and local authorities need to continue to support the airport if it is to continue and reach its full potential.”
He said there was capacity at Squires Gate to handle double the number of passengers handled last year and they were working with Jet2 to investigate new routes.
He said new investment in the terminal meant the airport shop had been enlarged and an additional landside cafe opened together with new security improvements.
The 400 acre site sees around 50,000 aircraft movements a year and has 100 full time staff with around 300 people working there altogether. It is the base for Bond Aviation’s helicopter flights which service the offshore energy industry as well as City Wing to the Isle of Man and Air Lingus to Dublin.
Steve Heapy, chief executive officer of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “It’s fantastic that Blackpool Airport has surpassed its goal by attracting more than 20,000 new passengers to the airport in 2013.
“During the year we also significantly increased our winter 2013 services to the Canary Islands, which included adding extra flights from Blackpool to Tenerife.”
Blackpool Council still has a five per cent share in the airport after Balfour Beatty bought it in 2008 and sees it as crucial for the economy of the area.
Coun John Jones, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Blackpool Airport’s increasing passenger figures is great news for the town.
“The airport has excellent prospects and continues to boost Blackpool’s economy. wThe future and continued growth of the airport relies on the support of residents.”