Gloucestershire Airport should stay open, according to new report

Gloucestershire Airport
Image caption Gloucestershire Airport handles 75-90,000 flights every year

Gloucestershire Airport should be kept open and not sold off for housing, according to a new report.

The airport at Staverton is part owned by Gloucester City and Cheltenham Borough councils but sits on Tewkesbury Borough Council land.

In recent years the idea of selling it off has been discussed by the councils.

But an independent report, seen by the BBC, has recommended it be retained by shareholders and possibly even part-privatised to boost its future growth.

The report was written by air transport consultants York Aviation, commissioned by Gloucester City Council for a better understanding of the airport's potential.

Image caption Filton Airport near Bristol was sold to developers last year as it was deemed to no longer be viable

It is not yet in the public domain and has not been discussed by the two councils' committees.

Filton sold

Part of its findings were that the airport brings millions of pounds into the local economy and should remain in operation.

However, the report also suggested its setup, with the local authorities as shareholders, is complicated and part-privatisation to be run by a trust could improve the business.

Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, said he thought that the report would be approved.

"We want to make sure we have a settled policy on the airport, to remove the kind of uncertainty talked about, but to also make sure we get a good return for the taxpayer," he said.

Gloucestershire Airport claims to be the UK's busiest general aviation airport, handing some 75-90,000 flights every year, and is home to more than 180 aircraft.

It has just been voted the 2013 Best General Aviation Airport by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Last year a much larger airfield at Filton, 35 miles (56km) away near Bristol, was sold to property developers in a multi-million pound deal.

Former owner BAE Systems decided it was no longer viable and wanted to sell the land for housing and business development.

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