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Blackpool Council takes back control of airport in £4m buy-out

Blackpool Council has today announced that it has struck a £4.25m deal to buy back the airport site, bringing the land back into public ownership for the first time in 13 years.

Previously, the authority had sold the site for £13m in 2004, but now previous owners Balfour Beatty will hand over the rights to operating company Regional and City Airports Holdings Ltd back to Blackpool Council.

The council had retained a 5% share in the airport when it sold it to City Hopper Airports in 2004, before it was sold to Balfour Beatty in 2008, but now it will take back 100% control of the land.

Blackpool airport went into administration in 2014, closing temporarily before reopening with reduced capacity.

The council reassured residents that the purchase will be funded through a mixture of “prudential borrowing and future sales of identified land within the Enterprise Zone to new businesses”.

“This move will protect the airport as a company, including the 30 jobs that are currently employed there,” said Cllr Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council. “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.”

The council leader added that he did not envisage the return of large-scale passenger planes to the airport, rather the purpose of the acquisition is to safeguard the helicopter and commercial airside activities that take place, build upon them and deliver on the authority’s overall objective of creating up to 5,000 jobs on the Enterprise Zone site.

“Blackpool Airport is the largest area of land in our thriving Enterprise Zone and this purchase will help us ensure that the airport continues to play a big part in making our Enterprise Zone one of the most successful in the country,” he continued.

“As the current company stands, Blackpool Airport is profitable and as such we can be confident that the money for the purchase can be repaid.

“As a minority stakeholder, we have always retained an interest in the company continuing as an airport and serving the whole of the Fylde coast.  Now as the sole owner, Blackpool residents can feel confident that we have the airport’s best interest at heart and will aim to support and grow the airport where possible.”

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