As discussions continue about possible expansion at Blackpool Airport on passenger routes and aviation activity, Gordon has spelt out ways of how smaller airports like Blackpool’s could be supported and given new roles and opportunities regionally.
Speaking at a meeting in Westminster to national members of BATA (which covers 95% of aviation output in the UK) on the future of civil aviation, Gordon, who is one of Labour’s Shadow Transport Ministers, said: “Aviation – commercial, business and passengers – makes a crucial contribution - £18bn a year – to the UK economy.”
“And smaller local airports are part of this – as well as to being a point of community pride as well as local assets. Those airports should play a key part – in places like the North-West - in supporting our freight, offshore wind and energy project and other initiatives.
“The experiences at Blackpool and elsewhere shows that local airports need to be strongly linked into Local Enterprise Partnership, and other key funding and infrastructure decisions in the region. With more devolution of funding from central Government going to such bodies from next year, it’s time for that major review of how we can support and galvanise our local regional airports, over and beyond new routes.”
Gordon has also welcomed today’s report from the Transport Select Committee.
He said: “The Committee has rightly stressed the vital role smaller airports can play as economic and social enablers for people and businesses locally. If we’re to spread the potential of smaller airports for regional growth, strategies which engage with their role in the local economy, capacity to expand freight and other aviation activities, and logistical and regulatory support need to be looked at.”
Commenting on the current situation for Blackpool,
Gordon said: “The focus the Select Committee has put on smaller local airports in its supportive report, the increased recognition of the economic importance of them by bodies such as BATA and the Airport Operations Association, plus the funding possibility for new routes from the Air Connectivity Fund and more transport money to be determined locally in the future, should put us in a different frame of discussion and opportunity to say six months ago.
“I have been in continued close and frequent contact with Blackpool Council and alerted them to potential ways the Air Connectivity Fund could be used to encourage commercial flights back. I have spoken again today to Blackpool Airport and the Balfour Beatty representative carrying forward these discussions and urged a speedy, positive conclusion to them.
“On carrying forward these ways to expand further activity at the airport, I’ve also been liaising closely with my constituency neighbour the MP for Fylde Mark Menzies. These are decisions that affect Blackpool, Fylde and also west Lancashire. I will keep that focus going – both with existing ministers and whoever takes over from them after May’s General Election.”