Airport sale debate hits new heights

Durham Tees Valley Airport owners Peel have reiterated that they have no plans to sell the airport after mayor Ben Houchen revealed he plans to unveil proposals to bring the airport back into public ownership.

The statements and counter-statements came after Peel Airports revealed that Loganair planned to withdraw their regular flights between Teesside and Aberdeen within months of launching the service.

Conservative Houchen pledged to buy back the region’s airport during his successful election campaign and continues to insist that remains the plan, despite Peel continually insisting that they do not plan to sell the airport.

In a statement, Peel Airports said: “We have no plans to sell our stake in the airport. Nine months since the mayor’s election, DTVA has still not received any form of proposal from the mayor, nor have we discussed any initiatives he can enable that might help the airport grow.

“With this all hanging over the airport, opportunities are being missed and damaging confidence in the airport.

Peel said that a “case in point” was Loganair’s decision to discontinue their route between Teesside and Aberdeen, as they are “unable to make the commercial case to lease the required aircraft”.

They continued: “We are naturally very disappointed that Loganair are withdrawing their Aberdeen service, with the passenger numbers performing well. However, sustaining a new route in the early years is challenging.

“We would therefore urge that any available funding allocated by TVCA to the airport should be used to support passenger growth and attracting businesses to the site.

In response to the Loganair decision, mayor Houchen said: “This is yet another disappointing announcement to come out of Teesside Airport under the current ownership.

“This is bad news for our industry and workers who have lost an important link to Aberdeen.

“Far from Flying for the Future, under Peel’s ownership our airport is Flying for Failure. Peel either need to up their game or sell the airport to someone who will.”

He added: “Peel’s cynical attempt to divert attention away from their years of failure by pinning a commercial decision by Loganair on me is desperate.

“I have never provided, nor been asked to provide, public funding to support the Loganair service. If Loganair needed money to sustain the route, Peel is worth £6 billion.”

Referring to his election, he continued: “The people sent Peel a clear message in May last year that they were unhappy with the way our airport is being run.

“Passenger numbers have collapsed by 80%, they’re losing £2m a year, they’ve divested themselves of pension liabilities, they’ve asked to close the airport’s rail station, and they’ve refused to extend their ‘keep open’ commitment past 2021.

“The people of the Tees Valley voted for a new direction and new ownership.

“I will be presenting my proposal to bring our airport back into public ownership in the coming months.

“It has taken time, but the public expect me to get this right. Only in local hands can we guarantee our airport won’t close.”

Loganair commercial director Kay Ryan said “It’s with deep regret that we have taken the decision to cease our operation on the Durham Tees Valley to Aberdeen route due to broader considerations within our network

“The management team at DTVA have been incredibly supportive and have done all possible to make the service viable. We intend to continue our strong relationship with DTVA who have been an excellent Airport partner and welcome the important proposal put forward to TVCA in considering alternative routes in the future.”

The Airport further added, “Aberdeen, a key route to the region, will remain being served by Eastern Airways, ensuring the needs of the business community are served by DTVA in line with our promises made in the Flying for the Future campaign
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“DTVA is a critical asset to the region providing vitally important connectivity; by working collectively we can achieve our shared ambitions to see growth and its development. The dynamics facing Airports to attract and sustain new routes in early years are ever complex and require support to give greater certainty they will be given the time to succeed”

Peel added: “Aberdeen, a key route to the region, will remain being served by Eastern Airways, ensuring the needs of the business community are served by DTVA in line with our promises made in the Flying for the Future campaign

“DTVA is a critical asset to the region, providing vitally important connectivity. By working collectively we can achieve our shared ambitions to see growth and its development.

“The dynamics facing airports to attract and sustain new routes in early years are ever complex and require support to give greater certainty they will be given the time to succeed.”

 

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