‘Appalling situation’ as airport runs out of fuel

Philip Meeson, chief executive of Jet2 described the situation at closure-threatened Blackpool Airport as 'appalling'
Philip Meeson, chief executive of Jet2 described the situation at closure-threatened Blackpool Airport as 'appalling'
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Flight chaos hitting hundreds of passengers saw planes diverted from closure-threatened Blackpool Airport as fuel suppliers halted deliveries.

Jet2 Passengers were diverted to Manchester and East Midlands Airport after Gulf Aviation stopped delivering to the Squires Gate site, as speculation continues over its future.

The chief executive of the airline affected today branded the situation “appalling”.

Two companies are believed to be holding 11th hour talks with the airport’s current owners Balfour Beatty, but time is running out as a deal must be struck by the end of today if commercial flights are continue beyond next Tuesday.

Three Jet2 flights were affected by the fuel shortage yesterday – passengers to Alicante, in Spain, and Dalaman, in Turkey, had to touch down at East Midlands Airport, in Leicestershire, to refuel en route to their destinations.

Meanwhile, the returning Dalaman flight was rerouted to Manchester with passengers returning to Blackpool by bus.

Philip Meeson, chief executive of Jet2, said: “It’s very expensive for us to do because we have to pay for landing and other charges. The airport has run out of fuel for aeroplanes.

“It’s an appalling situation.”

An airport spokeswoman said a fuel delivery was expected to made at 10.30am today, but a Tenerife-bound flight is due to depart at 9am - meaning it may have to refuel elsewhere on the way to the Canary island.

The shortage did not affect private enterprises on the site, which also rely on the airport for much of their fuel.

Mr Meeson has pledged Jet2 would not “let anyone down” regardless of whether supplier Gulf Aviation began sending its tankers back to the airport again.

He said: “We will make arrangements to look after our customers.

“They’re our absolute priority and we are talking to other airports at the moment.

“But whatever happens we will make sure people get on their holidays and back safely.”

Mr Meeson also added he hoped the jobs of those working for the company at the airport would be saved, no matter what the outcome.

On Thursday, The Gazette revealed Balfour Beatty was working with both Blackpool and Fylde Councils, as well as the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership LEP), to produce a plan which could help retain flights at the site in future should no buyer be found by the end of today.

The company has declined to comment on the current negotiations.

A spokeswoman for Gulf Aviation, which has supplied fuel to the airport since February, said: “We will be supplying them on Tuesday. Normal service will resume.”

The enterprise zone plan being drawn up by the two councils and the LEP mean the authorities would have to agree to any development on the site, but it could encourage more businesses to come to the site with a focus on the Fylde’s energy coast status while still retaining a strong non-commercial general aviation presence.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the opposition Tory group on Blackpool Council, has spearheaded the idea along with Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard.

He said: “I’m still trying to network with all the parties involved and hopefully something will come out of this.

“If we can’t get a settlement in terms of commercial viability I’d like to see it continue as a freight airport, and if none of that happens I’d like to see an enterprise zone set up and running so we can look at returning to commercial flights in future.”