Blackpool airport passenger journeys

UK airport statistics are released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) each month and include figures for local airports. The results allow trends to be monitored over time and comparisons to be made with other UK airports. Blackpool airport is situated on the Fylde coast of Lancashire close to the town centre of Blackpool. It was formerly known as Squires Gate Airport and has an aviation history dating back to 1909.

Results for Blackpool airport

Commercial passenger services from the airport dramatically ceased in mid-October 2014, but a month later the airport reopened to general aviation traffic, that included helicopters flights to offshore rigs. From 1st April 2015, Citywing re-commenced flights to Belfast via the Isle-of-Man, but went into liquidation in March 2017.

Table 1 has the passenger figures for recent years, whilst Figure 1 charts the changes from 1961 to 2016. From a total of 130,954 in 1961, numbers have fluctuated over the years as periods of expansion have been followed by years of decline. A previous low-point of just 41,350 was reached in 1981 that coincided with a period of sharp recession. A dramatic change occurred between 2003 and 2007 when a period of exceptional growth led to yearly figures of over half a million. Once more however, there was a reversal in fortunes with a decline that was all the more severe after the rapid growth. The introduction and subsequent withdrawal of routes to London Stansted and Barcelona Girona, by a low cost airline that no longer uses Blackpool, was a significant factor behind the large yearly variations in the first decade of this millennium.

Table 1. Passengers at Blackpool Airport, 2006-2016

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Passengers 552,641 557,636 439,199 276,860 235,340 235,682
Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016  
Passengers 235,191 262,630 223,998 33,494 36,269  

Source Civil Aviation Authority, UK airport statistics 

The numbers levelled out at around 235,000 each year between 2010 and 2012, and increased to 262,630 in 2013. With the airport temporarily closing to commercial passenger services in October 2014, the number declined to 223,998 for 2014. Jet2 flew to a selection of holiday destinations across Europe from Blackpool, but these ceased in October 2014. The 33,494 passengers in 2015 was the lowest figure recorded between 1961 and 2016 and for the first three months there were no scheduled flights, only helicopter trips. In 2016 there were 36,269 passengers, which was 2,775 higher than in 2015, but this could be simply down to the full year of scheduled flights. The passengers were either workers catching helicopter flights to offshore rigs from Blackpool, or people taking a commercial flight to the Isle-of-Man / Belfast. The exact breakdown is 20,503 on the chartered helicopter flights and 15,766 on the scheduled Isle of Man / Belfast flights. 

Airlines and other activities at Blackpool airport  

Helicopters operations from the airport serve Irish Sea offshore gas facilities. Blackpool is one of only six UK civil airports from which rotary wing aircraft make regular flights.

Other organisations associated with the airport are Hangar Three, Pool Aviation, Westair and Air Ads Limited.

The UK aeronautical information service provides detailed technical information for Blackpool airport. The website also includes details for the nearby Warton aerodrome.

Hangar 42 at Blackpool airport is home to a new aircraft museum operated by the Lytham St. Annes Spitfire Display Team.

The Air Training Corps 177 (Blackpool Airport) Squadron is based at the airport.

In November 2015 the establishment of the Blackpool Enterprise Zone at Blackpool airport was announced. One of the outcomes of this will be the Energy HQ, a training facility being developed by Blackpool and Fylde College.

Other local airports

There are three international airports that are each around 25 miles by road from different parts of Lancashire's border. Manchester International airport is within 45 minutes travelling time of Preston by motorway and accessible by direct train services from Blackpool, Lancaster, Chorley and Preston. With two runways, it offers an extensive range of worldwide destinations and in 2016 was used by a total of 23.7 million passengers. Liverpool John Lennon airport (4.8 million passengers in 2016) is easily accessible for residents in West Lancashire, and other parts of the county. Leeds/Bradford airport (3.3 million passengers in 2016) is a useful option especially for people in North East Lancashire.  

Travellers to and from Lancashire at Manchester and Liverpool airports

The civil aviation authority website has annual survey reports for major British airports that include Liverpool and Manchester. It is not possible to say from the results precisely what proportion of people using Manchester Airport either come from Lancashire or are heading to a location in Lancashire. The Lancashire figures just form part of the survey respondents that cover the North West region only. Everyone else who either started or finished their journey outside the region is not included in the following figures.  

Table 5.7 in the CAA report has the 2015 North West results for Liverpool airport, and 354,000 (10.6% of the total) of the origin/destination figures were for Lancashire. Table 5.10 has the North West results for Manchester airport, with 1,730,000 (15.3%) of the origin/destination of passengers allocated to Lancashire County. We have assumed that the CAA are referring to the Lancashire-14 area because they only list five county or metropolitan county figures.

Real time information on flights passing through local airspace

Flightradar24 is a flight tracking service that provides you with real-time info about thousands of aircraft around the world. By focusing in on the Lancashire area, it is possible to see which flights, and generally the amount of traffic that is presently using the airspace in the Lancashire area.

Gliding, skydiving and microlights in Lancashire

Unlike Warton, the other BAe site at Samlesbury has closed its airfield adjacent to the works. Until 2009 this was used for gilder training by 635 Volunteer Gliding Squadron of the RAF.  It had previously been used for gliding by a civilian club that is now the Bowland Forest Gliding Club, which moved to a site near Beacon Fell. The Lancaster Skydiving Centre at Cockerham in Lancaster district is home to the Black Knights Parachute Centre. It uses a Cessna Caravan aircraft. There are some sites in Lancashire that are used by microlight aircraft. These include the Cockerham airfield, or another one close nearby, Beeston Manor at Hoghton, a site near St. Michael's on Wyre just west of Myerscough College, and Pilling Brook Farm.

Page updated March 2017