Council buys back Blackpool Airport for £4.25m

Blackpool Council has bought Blackpool Airport from Balfour Beatty, bringing it back into public ownership for the first time in 13 years.

The international infrastructure group has sold its 95% share in the airport to the council for £4.25m.

The local authority has retained a 5% stake in the airport since selling it to a consortium led by City Hopper Airports and Mar Properties in 2004 for £13m, before it was sold on to Balfour Beatty in 2008.

The airport was placed into administration in 2014, closing temporarily before reopening with reduced capacity.

Balfour Beatty was understood to be considering two bids for the airport – one of which was from a London-based property company – and there were fears that a new owner may have used the site for housing.

At the start of this month Blackpool Council announced it was investing around £600,000 to purchase three plots of land around the airport from the receivers of Mar Properties.

A council report said the acquisitions would “assist the council in influencing the future sustainable operation of Blackpool Airport which includes the provision of enabling infrastructure and will aid in the successful delivery of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone”.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said of today’s deal: “This is not about trying to bring jumbo jets back to the airport anytime soon”, adding that the purpose of the acquisition was to safeguard commercial airside activities and build on them.

He added: “This move will protect the airport as a company, including the 30 jobs that are currently employed there. It will also allow us to ensure that the airport itself can continue to operate as an important hub that can benefit the whole region.

“Blackpool Airport is such a key part of having a strong local economy and it is absolutely vital that we safeguard its future and ensure that it can continue to be used as an aviation and employment hub for the Fylde coast for the long term.”

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: “The sale of Blackpool Airport further simplifies the portfolio, in line with the group’s strategy.”

Blackpool was one of the first aviation sites in the UK, with a history dating back to 1909.

The airport is home to The North West Air Ambulance service as well as a variety of fixed wing and helicopter flying schools and handling agents for executive private jets.

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