Filton Airfield has run at a loss for years says BAE Systems

Filton Airfield public meeting, 19th September 2011

Filton Airfield has been running at a loss for more than a decade, according to its owners BAE Systems, who plan to close it at the end of 2012.

A meeting at Filton Community Centre on Monday night (19th September) heard Andrew Cheeseman, Director of BAE Systems (Aviation Services), state that the airfield had lost “millions of pounds” in recent years.

Asked to what extent the company had promoted the airfield during that time, Mr Cheeseman said this had been done through a new website and a brochure distributed to the aviation industry at home and abroad.

BAE’s efforts were rubbished by Staple Hill Councillor Ian Boulton (Labour), who described the company’s website as “amateurish”.

Cllr Boulton told BBC Bristol:

“It really is disappointing to see they’re trying to market our airfield in such an amateurish way when it’s such an important asset.”

Amanda Deeks, Chief Executive of South Gloucestershire Council, said BAE Systems had been asked to provide evidence of the airfield’s alleged unviability as an input to the process of amending the Council’s draft Core Strategy document, which will soon be reviewed by an independent inspector on behalf of central government.

The Council says it wants to listen to what local people have to say both about the proposed closure and potential options for redevelopment and a series of staffed and unstaffed exhibitions are due to take place at Cribbs Causeway, Patchway, Filton, Bradley Stoke, Southmead and Henbury during October.

Many of the around 80 people attending the meeting were current or retired workers in the aircraft industry and a number of them expressed concern that manufacturing would eventually go elsewhere if the airfield were to close.

One member of the audience accused Mr Cheeseman of being a “mugger” who was “not just selling the family silver but smelting it down and selling it as scrap.”

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Photos from the meeting: album; slideshow (South Glos Post)