LATEST: Gloucestershire Airport: they 'never spent a penny'
By Simon Hacker | 30th November 2023
The former operations boss of Gloucestershire Airport has hit out at joint 50-50 owners, Cheltenham and Gloucester's councils, for a failure to invest in the transport hub.
The criticism from Darren Lewington, who quit as operations director at the airport in 2018 after 24 years of service to the facility, came in reaction to Punchline-Gloucester.com's report yesterday which revealed how rumours of the airport going up for sale - with a UK-based company with no previous experience in operating an airport showing an interest - forced a positional statement from Gloucester City Council and Cheltenham Borough Council.
Gloucestershire Airport Limited, which was established in 1993, has a 999 year lease on the 400-acre site and manages both the commercial and aviation-related activities for the two councils.
In a statement to Punchline, Mr Lewington, who now runs the aviation furniture business Aerotiques at the Meteor Business Park, said that a "key and fundamental" aspect to the current situation is that neither council has "invested millions in keeping the Airport going".
Mr Lewington added: "They've never invested a penny. They've facilitated borrowing that has been repaid with interest, dating back as far as the formation of the limited company in 1992."
Success stories on the airport, such as Babcock, Specialist Aviation and Skypark have all been privately funded, he said, "demonstrating that infrastructural investment works and generates a return".
"Local authority ownership, especially when it is complicated by a different planning authority and Green Belt status, has hamstrung the airport for decades. The painfully slow, cumbersome and (necessarily) transparent processes of owning a public asset has prevented the airport from reaching its full potential."
But he sounded an optimistic note in his forecast of the airport's future now that it is for sale: "A new owner, prepared to actually invest, could unlock that potential."
● As yet, neither council has updated the position on the airport's sale.
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