Jet2 is Blackpool airport's largest airline / Getty Images

The Lancashire airport has been losing money, and with a limited catchment area and intense competition from Liverpool and Manchester the owners saw no prospect of a turnaround

Blackpool airport is set to close next week, after the owner failed to find a buyer. Balfour Beatty, the construction firm, had warned a week ago that if it could not sell it by today, the airport's last passenger flights would operate on 15 October.

At 7pm it released a statement on the airport's website saying: "Unfortunately there is no option for the company other than to close. This is a very sad day for the airport which has a proud aviation history and a loyal, appreciative customer following. We would like to thank all our dedicated staff who have delivered exceptional service to passengers for many years.

"The airport will remain open to the public until 15 October 2014 and we will endeavour to maintain operations as normal until this date, after which time commercial flights will cease.“

The Lancashire airport has been losing money, and with a limited catchment area and intense competition from Liverpool and Manchester the owners saw no prospect of a turnaround. Talks with two potential buyers are believed to have broken down.

The announcement came as the chief executive of Jet2, the airport's largest airline, described a fuel shortage at Blackpool as "appalling". Several flights had to divert to East Midlands or Manchester airport because they could not refuel in Blackpool.

Philip Meeson, chief executive of Jet2, told the Blackpool Gazette: "It's very expensive for us to do because we have to pay for landing and other charges."

The airport at Squire's Gate, to the south of the resort, is one of the oldest in Britain.

But the departures board for Wednesday show the forlorn state of the airport. There are  just five flights scheduled to leave: two to Belfast, one to Dublin and one each to Lanzarote and Malaga.

A local campaign to save the airport has failed to prevent the closure - as have tweets from a Blackpool pizzeria to Lord Sugar and Sir Richard Branson inviting them to make rescue bids.

About 110 staff are affected; some of them are likely to be retained as the airport winds down, while others may be able to secure transfers to Manchester airport - which handles 80 times as many passengers as Blackpool.

One intriguing aspect of the closure is that it offers the Liberal Democrat leadership the possibility of supporting the opening of another runway somewhere in the UK. The party's policy is to forbid any net increase in runways. However, today the party voted down an amendment aimed at loosening opposition to all expansion in South East England.

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