The UK Civil Aviation Authority has granted operational control of the facility to a council-owned subsidiary, paving the way for further investment in the site, which is a key part of the 355-acre Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.
The council also confirmed it was open to proposals from airlines that could see commercial passenger services resume at the airport.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, chair of the board at Blackpool Airport Operations, said: “We appreciate and understand the local appetite for commercial passenger services to resume and are open to any credible proposals put forward by the industry to re-establish regional connectivity.”
However, the council conceded that the prospect of reintroducing commercial passenger services in the next few years are “limited, given a number of hurdles that remain in place.”
The main hurdle is the lack of a passenger terminal. The old terminal was demolished in 2016 to make way for the Lancashire Energy headquarters.
In the meantime, Blackpool Airport Operations has been granted an Aerodrome Licence and Air Navigations Service Provider certification, affording the council greater control over the delivery of how the airport is run.
The licenses will be transferred from former operators Regional & City Airports. It is the first time the council has had full control of the site since 2004 when the airport was sold to City Hopper for £13m.
City Hopper then sold the site to Balfour Beatty in 2008 before the council bought it back for £4.25m in 2017.
The acquisition was aimed at securing the airport’s long-term future as part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, which could create 5,000 jobs.
Following the transfer of the licences, the council’s aims for the airport are:
- Maximising opportunities for growth as part of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone
- Achieving a greater level of direct operational control and flexibility to take sound investment decisions
- Being more efficient and cost effective
- Ensuring a long-term, sustainable future for one of England’s oldest airports and a key strategic asset for the Fylde Coast.
“Blackpool Airport is back in control of its own destiny,” said Cllr Campbell.
“We’re excited to be at the threshold of a new era where we can build a bigger, brighter, more profitable future.”
To date Blackpool Council has invested nearly £2m in the upgrade and maintenance of essential infrastructure at the airport, with further significant investment planned.
While commercial passenger services no longer fly to or from Blackpool Airport, the Squires Gate facility is still used by helicopters to transport workers to North Shore oil rigs, and acts as the base for North West Air Ambulance.
Some private chartered flights also operate from the airport.