Plea to invest in threatened town airport

Worrying times: Simon Menzies, of Pool Aviation
Worrying times: Simon Menzies, of Pool Aviation
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An impassioned plea for potential buyers to come forward and invest in the airport has been made today by those working on the site.

Several independent businesses operate at the airport, with many left in the dark about what Monday’s announcement means for them.

Pool Aviation, which manages a fleet of 16 aircraft for both commercial and private operation, has called on possible investors to come forward ahead of next Tuesday’s sale deadline.

Simon Menzies, managing director at the company, says its commercial operation would cease at the airport if no buyer was found, although it would still be able to run private flights.

He said: “We can’t operate without an airport so it’s a very serious situation.

“We’re hopeful that there will be a buyer at some point.

“We understand the reasons why the airport was up for sale, you can’t continue a loss-making entity indefinitely and we are disappointed that the owners haven’t been able to secure a more commercially viable operation as the area cried out for it.”

The company, which employs 16 staff, manages 14 aircraft on behalf of both private and commercial clients, totalling “millions of pounds” worth of investment in the business.

Most of those using its services come from within a 40 mile radius of the airport, and Mr Menzies ruled out the possibility of operating commercial flights from Liverpool or Manchester, while operational restrictions mean it would be unlikely to relocate to Warton Aerodrome.

In a plea to potential investors, Mr Menzies added: “The hardest part of setting up an airport is the infrastructure.

“Here we have infrastructure ready to go.

“It supports the community, the business world, the economy and future development with offshore activity.

The air ambulance is based here and there are significant opportunities for airlines to develop their business in Blackpool – given that it turns into a sustainable, stable, future operation.”

His calls have been backed by Brian Seedle Helicopters, which is also based on the site.

Manager John Seedle said: “We had a meeting on Monday and everybody’s got the same general idea that we’ve got to club together a bit, put ideas together and work as a team to get things done.”

However Mr Seedle, whose operations will not be affected by a possible closure, believes a buyer will be found by the deadline.

He added: “It’s one of the oldest airports in the country.

“Someone could come along and buy it tomorrow, or even after it has gone into liquidation.”

A worker at Avis car hire, who did not want to be named, told The Gazette the company’s head office had assured staff it branch at the airport would continue running, even if it meant operating from another base in Blackpool.

Ian Wharmby from Blacktax Taxis, which operates the concession at the airport, said it would be a big blow for the town if the facility was to shut.

He said: “It is a big disappointment and I hope a buyer can be found. It needs someone to invest in it and develop the flights business.

“It used to have popular flights to Belfast and Stanstead and maybe if they could get more flights in every hour rather than just one, it would be more cost effective when it comes to employees and air traffic control.

“There is a huge catchment area from Lancaster and the Lake District through to Preston and beyond, so it has potential.

“If it closes it will hit many businesses.”

What you’ve been saying online at www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk

Coun John Jones of Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport says the council are “naturally disappointed” and that “This is likely the end of an era for the airport “.

IS THAT IT ?????? No fight to keep the airport open, no looking to every potential buyer or alternative.

Councillors were elected to fight for the interests of Blackpool , not to surrender , defeated within a day of hearing the news.

PBurton

Airport director Paul Rankin said in May, “The airport is doing well” well why the turn around Mr Rankin?,

Caretaker

It’s awful news. one suggestion - airport fire service - massive drain - never used, but need to be there. BNFL had own fire service - expensive - trained preston firemen in nuclear stuff and gave them rent free fire station on site and got rid of their own firemen. could airport not do same and close st. annes rd station

Tommyw3

Why would any company buy the airport without the land?

What safeguards were put in place when sold by the Council? Who exactly approved that sale How will this impact on Blackpool being an international destination?

Fyldecoast

We are led to believe that aviation in the UK is on the increase.

Numerous small airports are expanding and total passenger-miles are higher than ever.

There is a massive debate going on in the South-East about how London should be served for the future – either an extra runway at Heathrow, one at Gatwick or a whole new airport in the Thames estuary with costs being bandied around in the billions and yet Blackpool is in danger of losing its airport. It just doesn’t add up.

Lancefogg

Neighbours could benefit airport’s closure plan

Neighbouring airports 
believe they could benefit from Blackpool’s threatened closure.

Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Southport RAF Woodville could experience a boost in passenger numbers as they take on airlines needing a new base of operations.

A spokesman for Liverpool JLA said: “We are monitoring the situation closely.”

Meanwhile East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce described the announcement as “a disappointment for the whole county.”

Chief executive Mike Damms said the airport’s closure would be “a psychological blow” for the region.

He said: “Fingers crossed a resolution is found. It would certainly be a dent to Lancashire’s pride to lose its only regional airport. It’s not good news on various levels.”