Air­fields news

Black­pool's big fu­ture plans and the CAA'S airspace change por­tal

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Air­port and avi­a­tion con­sul­tants York Avi­a­tion have pro­duced a re­port that makes rec­om­men­da­tions for in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture, op­er­a­tions and man­age­ment of Black­pool (Squires Gate) Air­port. It ad­vises that two com­pa­nies owned by Black­pool Coun­cil – Squires Gate Op­er­a­tions Ltd (SGAOL), which man­ages op­er­a­tions, and Black­pool Air­port Prop­er­ties Ltd (BAPL), which looks af­ter the air­port’s land and prop­erty – should be re­spon­si­ble for pre­par­ing and im­ple­ment­ing a de­tailed busi­ness plan that will help map out its long-term fu­ture.

Key goals of the plan are to: safe­guard jobs and cre­ate new job op­por­tu­ni­ties; es­tab­lish the air­port’s mar­ket, ar­eas of busi­ness growth and new rev­enue streams and iden­tify and de­velop new busi­ness avi­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties; and sup­port re­lease of de­vel­op­ment land for the Black­pool Air­port En­ter­prise Zone.

York Avi­a­tion cites the main op­por­tu­ni­ties for fu­ture growth po­ten­tial as: ex­pand­ing ex­ist­ing ar­eas of core busi­ness, par­tic­u­larly gen­eral avi­a­tion ac­tiv­ity and fly­ing tu­ition; con­tin­u­a­tion of the con­tract for he­li­copter off­shore op­er­a­tions; cre­ation of fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties for cor­po­rate and ex­ec­u­tive avi­a­tion ac­tiv­ity; ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to at­tract sub­stan­tial air­craft main­te­nance re­pair and op­er­a­tional ac­tiv­ity, with the main fo­cus on smaller busi­ness jets, thus bring­ing rent, move­ment and fuel in­come; re­plac­ing old hangars with new-builds sited closer to the run­way to in­crease ca­pac­ity and in­come; and de­vel­op­ing an on-site café with air­side views.

York Avi­a­tion also as­sessed how likely it is that com­mer­cial air ser­vices might be rein­tro­duced at the air­port serv­ing the hol­i­day mar­ket, and con­cluded that the high lev­els of in­vest­ment needed in new ter­mi­nal fa­cil­i­ties, se­cu­rity, op­er­a­tional equip­ment and staffing would far out­weigh the in­come gen­er­ated and could see an an­nual seven fig­ure fi­nan­cial loss. Some 1.5 mil­lion pas­sen­gers would need to pass through the air­port each year to jus­tify that level of in­vest­ment to sup­port a full-scale re­turn of main­stream pas­sen­ger ser­vices, whereas his­tor­i­cally the max­i­mum num­ber of pas­sen­gers han­dled at Black­pool peaked at around 700,000 per an­num.

Black­pool Air­port has a cen­tury-long his­tory. It hosted its first ‘avi­a­tion meet­ing’ in Oc­to­ber 1909, when records show that some 200,000 spec­ta­tors ate 1,000 hams and drank 36,000 bot­tles of beer and 500 cases of cham­pagne. In 1938 it was req­ui­si­tioned by the Min­istry of Air­craft pro­duc­tion for the war ef­fort as RAF Squires Gate, and dur­ing 1939-40 a ‘shadow fac­tory’ was es­tab­lished for Vick­er­sArm­strong Ltd in which 3,842 Welling­ton bombers were built. In the mid-1950s Hawker Air­craft built Hunter jet fight­ers there, by which time air­line traf­fic made up a sub­stan­tial part of the air­field’s ac­tiv­i­ties, serv­ing the bur­geon­ing hol­i­day mar­ket. A long-term pri­vate fly­ing/gen­eral avi­a­tion res­i­dent is Wes­tair Avi­a­tion/fly­ing School, which has op­er­ated from Black­pool for more than seven decades.

The last Welling­ton pro­duced at what was then RAF Squires Gate in Oc­to­ber 1945

... al­though com­mer­cial flights are now deemed un­eco­nomic

Flight train­ing may once again be ex­panded...

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