Tees Valley Combined Authority has given the green light to take a local airport back into public ownership.
Labour council leaders voted to back Conservative mayor Ben Houchen’s £40m proposal to buy Peel Group’s majority holding in Durham Tees Valley Airport.
Mr Houchen outside the airport
The deal includes a parcel of land previously earmarked for 350 homes with the intention of safeguarding it against development.
Mr Houchen tweeted: ‘IT’S OFFICIAL: Teesside Airport will now return to public ownership. Promise delivered.’
Despite some misgivings about the outlay – expected to reach £75m after covering operating losses and improvements – all five members of the authority’s board voted in favour at this morning’s meeting.
Leader of Stockton-on-Tees BC, Cllr Bob Cook, said: ‘With big investments come big risks – in this case the main concerns are the lack of a formal agreement with an experienced airport operator and the fact that the aviation sector is notoriously difficult and brutally competitive.’
However, he added: ‘A thriving airport can only be a great thing for local people, businesses and the economy.’
Peel Group failed to make a profit since taking over the operating of the airport in 2003. Operators withdrew services and annual passenger numbers fell to 130,000 in 2017 from a high of 900,000.
It indicated a closure of the airport after 2021 was likely unless it could be sold, at an estimated cost to the local economy of £32m.
This story first appeared on themj.co.uk.