• Quote: ‘What you need is Conservative politicians, frankly, with a bit of vision, to take it on’ – PM Boris Johnson
  • Quote: ‘Blackpool had a fantastic business case to re-develop the site’ – PM Boris Johnson

The potential reopening of Blackpool Airport – reported exclusively by The Leader – has had the backing of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Blackpool had a fantastic business case to re-develop the site,” Johnson told BBC Radio Lancashire.

The Leader has been a leading figure in highlighting the possibility of Blackpool Airport reopening following its closure in 2014.

Thousands of passengers formerly booked flights to Spain, including Alicante-Elche airport, when Blackpool had commercial flights, mainly for holidays.

“I would advise (Blackpool Council) to look at what the Mayor Ben Houchen has done at Teesside.

“The airport was shut, he took it over, and he’s making a huge success of it. It’s fantastic,” said PM Johnson.

However, the proposal by PM Johnson to re-open an airport for holidaymakers has been described as political posturing by Blackpool council leader Lynn Williams.

Labour councillor Williams aired her voice in saying the airport was thriving – by supplying services to the gas and oil industry.

“What you need is Conservative politicians, frankly, with a bit of vision, to take it on,” said PM Johnson.

Blackpool Airport closed to commercial flights in 2014, with owners Balford Beatty stating it was losing £2m annually.

Blackpool council bought the site in 2017, and in 2021 announced it was taking over day-to-day management of the Squires Gate site.

Blackpool Council leader Williams also described PM Johnson’s plans as ‘hypocritical’.

“The prime minister didn’t even land his jet at Blackpool Airport, but he’s all supportive of it, and he’s wanting it to be re-opened,” she said, referring to the PM’s visit to the seaside resort on June 9.

Councillor Williams said comparing Blackpool with Teesside was ‘not terribly helpful’ – because the resort would face enormous competition from airports in Manchester and Liverpool.

“The biggest passenger numbers for Blackpool were back in around 2007, when we had 700,000 passenger movements, but even that year it still made a loss of £2m,” said Councillor Williams.

Ms Williams highlighted how Teesside International Airport had made a loss – for the past two years – although she admitted that was mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the midst of closing Blackpool Airport, today it supplies services to the gas and oil industry and provides training for helicopter pilots.

“It’s had its highest aircraft movements in 20 years. What we’re doing is trying to create good jobs for our local residents,” said Councillor Williams.

Councillor Williams said if the PM was serious about the idea of Blackpool Airport reopening, then the government should approach the council with the plans.