Blackpool Airport is celebrating being their region’s fastest growing airport for the second year in a row. The number of people passing through the airport increased from 377,000 in 2005 to 552,724 in 2006 which was a staggering 47 percent boost from the year before.
On the back of the airport’s success, the local council and residents are set to benefit. When the council sold the airfield for £6.2 million in 2004, they agreed not to touch the money in case they had to buy it back. However, the recent success of Blackpool Airport has encouraged the council to release the funds for several projects.
Although they won’t be using all the money, a large sum will be used towards tourism, roads and council funds. The council has every confidence in the airports success which is why they have finally decided to utilise some of the money they received when they sold the airport. Over £1 million will go towards an illumination scheme for the town centre and another million on highway repairs.
It’s hoped that the new additions and repairs will increase the 17 million tourists they receive a year and improve the future of the town.However, not everybody is supporting the council’s decision to spend the money. The Blackpool Gazette has described it as being reckless as the future of the airport is still not assured.
Councillors are concerned because a proposed expansion which may be opposed could put the future success of the airport in doubt. Blackpool Airport’s expansion has already been criticised as their Masterplan does not detail how they expect to cope with the rise in passenger numbers. Their plan suggests that passenger numbers will rise from 350,000 last year to an astonishing 4,300,000 in 2030.
At the moment and average of 15 to 20 flights go from Blackpool every day, by 2030 this is expected to go up to 141 a day. One of the problems they are likely to face is long term parking at Blackpool Airport. With such an increase in the amount of passengers, they are going to have to find space for extra car parks. As well as this, cheap parking at Blackpool airport is necessary as extortionate parking prices may put people off. Like many other airports around the UK who are planning to expand, they are likely to find themselves faced with conflict and hostility from those concerned about the environment, noise and an increase in traffic.