Blackpool International Airport
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2013)|
|Blackpool International Airport
Squires Gate Airport
|IATA: BLK – ICAO: EGNH|
|Operator||Blackpool Airport Ltd.|
|Location||St Annes-on-the-Sea, Lancashire|
|Elevation AMSL||34 ft / 10 m|
|Passenger change 12–13||11.6%|
|Movements change 12–13||11.6%|
|Sources: UK AIP at NATS
Statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority
Blackpool International Airport (IATA: BLK, ICAO: EGNH) is an international airport on the Fylde coast of Lancashire, England, in the Borough of Fylde, just outside the Borough of Blackpool. It was formerly known as Squires Gate Airport.
With aviation roots that trace back to 1909, Blackpool Airport was one of the first aviation sites in the UK. The airport was owned and operated by City Hopper Airports Limited, which also owns Wolverhampton Airport and Biella Airport in Italy, before, in January 2007, being placed under new management after one of its two major shareholders bought out its partner. MAR Properties Ltd agreed terms to take over full control of Blackpool and Wolverhampton Airports. In May 2008, it was announced that Balfour Beatty, who also own Exeter Airport and Derry Airport, had purchased MAR Property's 95% stake in the airport. The remaining 5% stake is held by Blackpool Borough Council.
Blackpool Airport Limited has a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P724) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Passenger numbers peaked in 2007 with over 550,000 passing through the airport, but had fallen to 235,238 in 2012, before increasing by 11.6% to 262,630 in 2013 making Blackpool the 32nd busiest airport in the UK that year.
Three scheduled airlines operate from the airport, as well as occasional charter holiday flights in the summer months. Executive flights are operated by Hangar 3 and J-Max which both offer access to a private aircraft hangar and private aircraft management. Helicopter operations serve the offshore oil and gas facilities in the Irish Sea. This service is operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters which uses two Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin helicopters from a purpose built helicopter terminal facility. Blackpool Airport is also home to the North West Air Ambulance service operated by a twin-engined Eurocopter EC 135. There are many companies situated on the airfield which offer flying lessons and training flights. The fixed-wing lessons are usually in Piper or Cessna aircraft and the Robinson family of helicopters used for non-fixed wing lessons.
- 1 History
- 2 Development of the airport between 2005 and 2010
- 3 Recent developments since 2011
- 4 Airlines and destinations
- 5 Offshore helicopter operations
- 6 Statistics
- 7 Accidents and incidents
- 8 Transport
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The airport site's first aviation use was in October 1909, when the UK's first official public Flying Meeting was held on a specially laid out site at Squires Gate, followed by another in 1910. By 1911 the site had become a racecourse and it was used as a military hospital during the First World War and until 1924. Flights from the site resumed in the early 1930s. Small UK airlines used the airfield during the mid-1930s. Railway Air Services commenced schedules to Blackpool from 15 April 1935, linking the airport with the Isle of Man, Manchester and Liverpool. Connections could be made at the two cities to London and the south and west of England. In June 1937, airline operations were transferred to Stanley Park Aerodrome. The sister of aviation pioneer Amy Johnson lived in Stanley Park, resulting in her often paying a visit; Johnson's last complete flight was a ferry flight for the ATA from Squires Gate to Oxford.
RAF Squires Gate
Work on enlarging and improving the airfield and facilities began in late 1937, but the aerodrome was requisitioned by the Air Ministry in 1938. Three bituminous runways were laid to support operations, with squadrons stationed at RAF Squires Gate during the Second World War including:
- No. 63 Squadron, September 1939 to January 1940
- No. 75 Squadron, September 1939 to January 1940
- No. 215 Squadron, September 1939 to January 1940
- No. 96 Squadron
- No. 256 Squadron
The RAF also selected Blackpool as one of its training wings due to the availability of accommodation. With training based between Squires Gate and the British Army camps at Weeton and Kirkham, by utilising: the large number of guest houses; plus the beaches, pier and the Winter Gardens for exercising; 769,673 recruits received their basic training at Blackpool. The RAF also established two specialist training schools:
- No. 3 School of General Reconnaissance
- No. 5 School of Technical Training, for air mechanics
Vickers shadow factory
The Ministry of Aircraft Production erected a shadow aircraft factory during 1939-1940 in the north-east corner of the airfield to enable Vickers-Armstrong to operate an aircraft production facility at Squires Gate. This produced 2,584 Wellington medium bombers, several hundred of which were assembled and flown from Stanley Park Aerodrome before landing at Squires Gate for testing and delivery. The first was completed in September 1940 and the last in October 1945, when the factory closed.
The factory was reopened by Hawker Aircraft in the mid-1950s to augment the production of Hawker Hunter jet fighters, under contract SP/6ACFT/9817/CB 7a. Many Hunters were also built for the Swedish Air Force.
Scheduled flights were resumed by Isle of Man Air Services in summer 1946. Lancashire Aircraft Corporation and other private airlines established their bases at the airport from 1946 onwards. By 1949, the airfield was controlled by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and renamed Blackpool Airport.
Development of the airport between 2005 and 2010
In recent years the airport has been steadily expanding, accommodating helicopter operations for British Gas, and attracting scheduled flights from budget airlines, Jet2 and Ryanair and also scheduled services by smaller operators to the Isle of Man. Since World War II, the airport has also been a centre for private, club and general aviation. Ryanair has since left the airport however.
In 2005, Jet2 became the first major low cost airline to base an aircraft at Blackpool Airport. This created around 50 new jobs and boosted passenger numbers. It now serves seven destinations from the airport – five in Spain and the Canaries (Palma, Alicante, Murcia, Tenerife South, Málaga) and one in Portugal (Faro). Jet2 also offers a domestic service to Belfast
Also in 2005, Monarch set up a new route to Málaga, three times a week. After a year though the airline ceased services, blaming low passenger numbers as the reason. However, Jet2.com had earlier announced that it would be operating flights to Málaga.
Until January 2006 an Avro Vulcan bomber (serial number: XL391) was on static external display close to the entrance to the airport. The Vulcan XL391's last operational role was at Ascension Island during the Falklands conflict in 1982, however, it only flew as a backup aircraft and never actually went to the Falklands. It was put up for sale in October 2004 on eBay and purchased by Manchester pub landlord Chris Ollerenshaw (for £15,102.03) who had intentions to transport it to his pub and display it in his beer garden. However after finding out that the condition of the aircraft was so poor that moving it would be extremely challenging and that it would cost over £20,000 in addition to the reported £1000 a week storage charge, Mr Ollerenshaw pulled out of the deal and later relinquished ownership of the plane back to the airport. The Vulcan was then sold on for scrap for £4,800 and was scrapped and completely removed from the site on 12 January 2006.
During 2006, British North West Airlines, the smallest airline based at Blackpool has, according to its website, stopped trading for both charter and scheduled flights. Flights to the Isle of Man are now operated by Citywing, who are now flying the route up to three times a day with an onward connection to Belfast City. Citywing has brought low fares to the Isle of Man and Belfast routes and passenger numbers on these route vastly increased in January 2007.
With the growth of the airport, a new carrier, the ACMI company, Jetstream Executive, operating under the name, Jetstream Express, introduced flights in 2007 from the airport to Belfast City Airport (from May), Aberdeen Airport (from June) and Southampton Airport (from July). The Belfast route was in competition with Jet2.com, who operate twice daily between Blackpool and Belfast International Airport. Two Jetstream 31s were based at the airport. However, in June 2007 a notice appeared on the Jetstream Express website stating – "With immediate effect, Jetstream Express have ceased operating the routes to Blackpool, Aberdeen, Southampton and Belfast", adding that all flights were withdrawn as the routes have not proved viable.
In 2007, Jet2 cancelled its Prague and Amsterdam services blaming insufficient passenger numbers as the reason to suspend the route. Ryanair also cancelled its twice daily flights to London Stansted stating that it fell into the bottom three routes, in terms of passengers carried, across its network.
On 6 May 2008, Balfour Beatty bought the 95% stake of the airport off CityHopper Airports Ltd for £14million. The construction company also owns Exeter Airport and they stated that one of their top priorities is to re-establish a link to London, which Blackpool lost in 2007 when Ryanair discontinued its Stansted route.
On 18 July 2008, the Blackpool Gazette announced that Jet2 planned to suspend its daily service from Blackpool to Belfast International for the winter. A dip in passenger numbers and the rising price of oil has taken its toll on the service. According to the newspaper, Jet2 will restart the daily Belfast service from March 2009.
In the summer of 2008 Ryanair announced a large cut in capacity at a number of airports, including Stansted, from October 2008 to March 2009, although Blackpool was not affected by these cuts. However, on 25 November 2008 Ryanair announced the intention to withdraw all flights from 5 January 2009 following the airport's introduction of a £10 per person Airport Development Fee.
After the £10 Airport Development Fee was introduced at the start of 2009, a new airline was sought to replace Ryanair on its very popular route to Dublin. Aer Arann were their successors and commenced operations shortly after. The short hop over the Irish Sea is operated 4 times a week by either an ATR 42 or the larger ATR 72 turboprop aircraft. The route has proven to be very popular and has the possibility of catching a connecting flight to New York directly from Dublin. The airline has since entered a franchise agreement with Aer Lingus and the route now operates under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. The flight is fully operated by Aer Lingus Regional but has a codeshare partnership with sister company Aer Lingus and Etihad Airways from the United Arab Emirates.
Recent developments since 2011
During 2011 the airport has undergone a few changes on the airfield itself. Runway 07/25 has been closed as an active runway and has now been opened as Taxiway C running the full length of the old runway. Therefore the old Taxiway C has been closed and the northern part of it (between Runway 10/28 and the old Runway 07/25) has been opened as an extension of Taxiway E. Another notable change has been the relocation of the airport's Fire Services. They have been moved from their position north of the fuel farm to a more central position in between the terminal and some of the flying clubs on the Taxiway B ramp.
On 28 January 2012, plans were unveiled to launch a twice-weekly service to Albert - Picardie Airport with Danish Air Transport using ATR-72 equipment. The new route was planned to start in the last week of April, however, the flights were cancelled before the route was officially opened.
During June 2012, Jet2.com announced plans it would fly to Dalaman and Ibiza from May 2013. About a week later, the company also added Lanzarote to the destination list. Jersey has been replaced by Ibiza for the 2013 season which brings the Jet2.com destination list up to 10.
In the first week of August 2012, BBC Radio Lancashire announced that the North West Air Ambulance, which is based at the airfield, will be relocated to the Royal Preston Hospital so that specialist doctors can be instantly flown out to a scene. The move has yet to be made as the helicopter is still based at the airfield.
At the beginning of November 2012 it was announced by Jet2.com that they would be flying to Lanzarote all year round. This was a further development to the schedule which in recent months has now seen the addition of three new destinations to the sea side resort. The addition of Lanzarote to the winter schedule now sees them flying to three destinations during the winter months.
Following Jet2.com's announcement that it will offer year round service to Lanzarote, the airline has also revealed plans to operate the service with a larger aircraft starting in October 2013. This announcement came at the start of April just before the summer season began. The aircraft they will be using is a Lanzarote-based Boeing 737-800 which is currently leased from Travel Service Airlines. It will arrive from Lanzarote in the morning and then return to Lanzarote just after 12 noon. The 737-800 has not been seen at Blackpool since Ryanair discontinued their services in January 2009.
On 13 May, Jet2holidays announced, via their website, that they have re-added Menorca to Blackpool Airport's destination list. The weekly flight will depart from Blackpool from 21 May 2014 and will be available to book throughout the summer of 2014. In the article, the Chief Executive Officer of Jet2 and Jet2holidays says that 'the addition of Menorca demonstrates our commitment to our customers from the North West'.
Following the end of the 2013 summer season it has been announced that Jet2 will be cancelling their Belfast flight because of continuous falling passenger figures, the loss of the Belfast Service brings Jet2's destinations at the resort airport down to 10. This leaves Citywing as the only airline operating a daily flight to Belfast via the Isle of Man.
Statistically, 2013 was the best year for passenger movements through the airport since 2009, with 262,630 passengers using the facility. The increase was directly linked to the introduction of 3 new summer Jet2 destinations, Dalaman, Ibiza and Lanzarote, which increased the passenger count by around 10% from the previous year.
On April 4, 2014 it was announced via an update on the Dart Group website that 'holidaymakers from across Lancashire will be spoilt for choice next summer, as a new Spanish destination is announced from Blackpool Airport.' The new route, starting from May 2015, is to Reus in eastern Spain. This takes the total number of Jet2 destinations to 11 and takes the number of destinations to mainland Spain to 4.
During the last week of August 2014, Balfour Beatty announced that they would put the airport up for sale. The Gazette, the local newspaper in Blackpool and the Fylde, states that Balfour Beatty 'have decided to sell its operating interests in the site as part of a wider decision to sell all its interests in regional airports.' The news comes 6 years after the company bought the 95% stake in the airport for £14m.
Airlines and destinations
|Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
operated by Van Air Europe and Links Air
|Belfast-City, Isle of Man|
|Jet2.com||Alicante, Arrecife, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Dalaman, Faro, Ibiza, Mahon, Málaga, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Reus (begins 25 May 2015)
Offshore helicopter operations
For many years Blackpool has been the base of an offshore helicopter operation flying crews to and from the Irish Sea oil fields. All offshore flights are operated through the purpose built terminal which is located next to the main passenger terminal. Originally flights were operated by CHC Helicopter until operations were taken over on January 1, 2010 by Bond Offshore Helicopters. Bond operate 2 Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin helicopters, G-REDF and G-REDG, 7 days a week to 5 oil platforms in the Irish Sea.
During the summer months another operator NHV, also uses a Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin to operate 1 day a week to an oil support vessel in Morecambe Bay, however these flights operate through the main terminal.
As a result of these offshore flights, Blackpool sees a number chartered flights from the Netherlands and Spain bringing oil workers to meet their helicopter flights, airlines such as Aeronova and Bin Air are often seen flying in.
|Bond Helicopters||Douglas gas field, Hamilton gas field, Lennox gas field, Morecambe gas field, Millom gasfield|
|Updated: 6 April 2014.|
|Source: CAA Official Statistics|
|Rank||Airport||Passengers||Percentage Change (%)||Carrier|
|5||Isle of Man||19,536||13||Citywing|
|7||Dublin||17,154||2||Aer Lingus Regional|
Accidents and incidents
- On 27 August 1941, two aircraft, a RAF Blackburn Botha trainer and a Boulton Paul Defiant fighter, serials L6509 and N1745 respectively, collided in midair over the sea, just off Blackpool's central seafront. The debris from the collision was strewn over a large area but a large part of it struck the then Blackpool Central railway station causing severe damage and killing 12 people. Both aircraft had taken off from Blackpool Airport.
- On 16 May 1970, a Beagle B.121 Pup, registration G-AXIB crashed during the final stage of an approach to land. The aircraft started a climb and rolled on its back, then the nose dropped while the aircraft continued to roll until it flew into the ground nose down 1500 feet short of the threshold of runway 28. Both occupants were killed on impact and the aircraft was destroyed by fire, it was not possible to determine the reason for the manoeuvre that led to the accident. Analysis suggests the manoeuvre may have been an intentional but unsuccessful acrobatic roll.
- On 29 June 1972, a HFB-320 Hansa Jet, registration D-CASY crashed on take-off. The pilot attempted to abort the take-off but over shot the end of the runway, crossed some grass land to the airport boundary. The aircraft then crossed over railway lines and continued into a holiday camp immediately bordering the airport, demolishing six chalets, damaging several others and finally catching fire. 2 crew members and 5 of the 6 passengers were killed. Nobody in the holiday camp was hurt.
- On 27 September 1982, Douglas C-47 G-AKNB of Harvest Air was damaged beyond economic repair in an accident at Blackpool Airport.
- On 27 December 2006, a Eurocopter AS365N, registration G-BLUN, crashed into the Irish Sea, 24 miles offshore because of pilot error. There were 7 persons on board the helicopter, 5 passengers and 2 crew members. There have been 6 bodies recovered and the 7th body is still reported to be missing. The helicopter was based at Blackpool Airport and the flight had also originated from the Squires Gate base.
- On 3 February 2007, a Piper PA-28 Cherokee registered G-BBBK was inbound to Blackpool when it crashed on the Fylde Coast. The VFR flight had originated from Exeter Airport and the pilot was attempting to land in thick fog. He failed to locate the airport and continued several miles north before losing altitude and crashing in shallow water between the central and southern piers. Both occupants were killed.
- Rail – Squires Gate railway station. Direct Northern Rail Pacer and Sprinter trains to Blackpool South, Preston and Colne (East Lancashire).
- Bus – Blackpool Transport bus services 7, 11 and joint Stagecoach/Preston Bus service 68 stop near the airport with routes to Blackpool town centre and Cleveleys (northbound) and Lytham St Annes and Preston(southbound).
- Tram – Blackpool Transport tram services are available from Starr Gate terminus on the Blackpool tramway, running along the promenade, along the Golden Mile northward to Bispham, Cleveleys and Fleetwood.
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- Hyde, Nick (25 November 2008). "Ryanair to quit Blackpool airport". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
- "Ryanair Slams Development Fee at Blackpool Airport". Ryanair. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
- "EY to fly Blackpool to UAE". Retrieved July 1, 2013.
- "Jet2:New Routes". Retrieved June 30, 2013.
- "Jet2 offers even more at Blackpool". Jet2.com. June 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
- "Jet2 to bring back Menorca". Jet2.com. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
- "Jet2 to fly to Reus from May 2015". Jet2.com. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- "Blackpool Airport sell-off bid sparks new route hopes". blackpoolgaztte.co.uk. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- [[List of oil and gas fields of the North Sea|]]
- "G-AKNB Accident report". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
- Smith, D.J. (1981). Action Stations 3 : Military Airfields of Wales and the North-West. Patrick Stephens Limited. ISBN 0-85059-485-5.
Media related to Blackpool Airport at Wikimedia Commons