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.
Blackpool Council bought Blackpool airport in September 2017 from Balfour Beatty for a reported £4.25milion to safeguard the helicopter and other commercial activities at the site, to build on these activities and assist in the delivery of up to 5,000 jobs on the Enterprise Zone site. The purchase saw Blackpool Council take full control of the operating company Regional and City Airports (Blackpool) Holdings Ltd and approximately 30 employees.
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 2017. 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, 2006-2017
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. Citywing operated the service to Belfast via the Isle of Man from April 2015 to March 2017, but since then no scheduled flights have been made. Hence 2015 saw the 2nd lowest number of passengers, and 2017 the lowest. It is only because Blackpool is a base for helicopter flights to Irish Sea gas platforms that there have been any passengers since March. The exact breakdown is 21,485 on the chartered helicopter flights and 1,906 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.
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 is the Energy HQ, a training facility developed by Blackpool and Fylde College.
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 2017 was used by a total of 27.8 million passengers. Liverpool John Lennon airport (4.9 million passengers in 2017) is easily accessible for residents in West Lancashire, and other parts of the county. Leeds/Bradford airport is a useful option especially for people in North East Lancashire.
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 5.5 in the CAA report has the 2016 North West results for Liverpool airport, and 481,000 (12.4% of the total) of the origin/destination figures were for Lancashire. Table 5.8 has the North West results for Manchester airport, with 2,359,000 (15.7%) 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.
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.
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 February 2018