THE director of a Blackpool airline which left customers and the airport high and dry will not be allowed to manage a business for the next six years.

Comed Aviation Ltd, which ran daily flights to Belfast, Dublin and the Isle of Man as well as a flight training centre, collapsed in February 2001 with debts of more than £1 million.

The company was run by Robert Gregor Murgatroyd of Ash Close, Elswick, near Preston.

It was revealed on Friday that the 36-year-old entrepreneur has given a legal undertaking to the insolvency service not to become a director or be involved in running a business until 2009. If he breaches the agreement, Murgatroyd could face a prison sentence or a large fine.

The firm went into administrative receivership in February 2001. Blackpool Airport was one of the firm's major creditors, owed an estimated £500,000.

The dispute also saw the company's planes - several of which were leased - impounded. The owners were only allowed to recover them after paying out thousands of pounds.

Information revealed by the Insolvency Service this week shows that customers or their credit card companies lost £198,920 in pre-payments and deposits for flights and training. Of that, £42,189 came after Murgatroyd realised the company was unable to pay creditors and suppliers.

Murgatroyd admitted failing to take steps to ensure that customers would get their money back if the firm went bust.

He also admitted allowing the company to continue trading when it knew it could not meet payments to suppliers and creditors.