Plymouth airport opened for business in the 1930s, and was shut down last December after its lease-holders, a property development company called Sutton Harbour Group, said the airport was not economically viable. As advertised on the website of the auctioneers handling the sales, everything from flying school portacabins and runway vehicles to glass partitioning is up for grabs. Sutton Harbour Group will take 25 percent of all auction profits.
Plymouth is a city of 250,000 about three hours southwest of London by car. According to a local group of business owners and residents called VIABLE, the airport served about 125,000 people every year.
“It’s a niche airport, but fit for its purpose,” Plymouth-native and VIABLE CEO Raoul Witherall said. “We believe that in five, ten years we can quadruple the traffic. The traffic exists, but the routes have not.”
Many residents view the municipal-owned airport as a business hub whose potential the Sutton Harbour Group failed to realize.
“It’s a conflict of interest,” said Witherall, “slow patient build-up of such a business isn’t a property company’s thing.”
VIABLE collected 20,000-odd signatures on a petition, but it appears the auction will still happen.
“For the enthusiast like myself, you may find some bidding for memorabilia as a keepsake of the airport,” said Piran Smith, who spent many years flying and taking pictures at the airport. ”You might find private investors bidding for the sole purpose of returning it to the airport.”