As controversy and insecurity surrounds the Murcia regional airports of San Javier and Corvera, the same insecurity seems to be developing in one part of the UK, with the announcement of the threat of closure of Blackpool airport.
Having purchased the airport in 2008 for 14 million pounds, for little over a month, the current owners, Balfour Beatty, have been trying to find a buyer to take over the operation at the northwest coastal airport.
Like many smaller airports in the UK, such as those at Leeds, Doncaster and Nottingham, and midsized locations such as Liverpool, who is likely to be the big winner in the event of the closure, Blackpool had been seen as an alternative to larger airports such as Manchester, as lower operating costs filter down to the passenger, and many people choose to avoid the ever increasing delays caused by added security checks and queues at major hubs such as Manchester.
However, having bought the airport at the peak of its operation, Balfour Beaty no doubt didn´t anticipate that passenger numbers would drop, with 439,200 passengers in 2008 when they bought it, now only serving 262,630 in 2013. Subsequently, the airport makes an annual loss of about 1.5 million pound per year.
Now, in a statement, the company has revealed that, “On August 28 2014, we announced our intention to find a buyer for the airport operating company. The airport operations have been making a loss for a number of years and we are currently exploring a number of options in an attempt to secure the future of the airport.
“We regretfully confirm that if no agreement can be reached before 7 October 2014 which ensures the viability of its operations, then it is likely that the airport operations will close. In this event, we expect that the last commercial flights will take place on Wednesday 15 October 2014.
“We apologise for the uncertainty this will cause over the coming weeks and we recommend that any affected passengers contact their airline to confirm travel arrangements.” Three main airlines operate from Blackpool, including Jet2.com, Stobart Air and Citywing.
The case has been taken up by Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Paul Maynard, who says that he is “very concerned”, and that the airport needs an owner to stay with it for the “long term”, whilst calling for dialogue with Balfour Beaty.
Other councillors from all local parties have also taken up the cause, with Balfour Beaty confirming that they had been contacted by Blackpool South´s Labour MP, Gordon Marsden.