Tees Valley business leaders have welcomed Ben Houchen’s airport takeover and vowed to bring more investment and jobs to the region.
The Tees mayor revealed further plans for expansion and development at Teesside International Airport during the launch of the new This Is Tees Valley publication last week.
Eastern Airways also used the event to promote eight routes from Teesside to UK destinations and the continent during a question and answer session at the airport.
Tony Burgess, the managing director of the airline, unveiled plans to add Isle of Man, Southampton, Dublin, Belfast, Cardiff, Aberdeen, London City and Alicante to its schedules before the start of the summer.
And it was revealed copies of This Is Tees Valley will set in front of passengers on all Eastern Airways flights in and out of Teesside.
Tony was on a five-strong panel for a question and answer session at the newly-reopened airport, mayor Houchen, Bill Scott OBE, chief executive of Wilton Engineering, Middlesbrough College principal Zoe Lewis and Frans Calje, the chief executive of PD Ports.
“Being involved in Teesside has huge value for us,” said Tony.
“If you have an airport which is not used or undervalued, it is shocking. That really does not look good.
“Very few airports in the country offer a route right into the heart of London and having that link between Teesside and London City is a huge, huge boost and will have big benefits for the region.
“One of the great ways of boosting and area is actually being able to fly in and out of it and it is very picturesque around here and more needs to be done to promote the area. It is a region that does not sell itself as well as it should.”
Mayor Ben Houchen pledged to reopen the airport during his election campaign two years ago and is naturally delighted to have delivered.
With major plans for the area around the base, he knows the on-going redevelopment is just the start of a new story for the area.
He said: “No one really knew what a mayor was or what he did but actually the airport is an example of what this role can achievement if we have the money to deliver, we can deliver quite a lot.
“Cynics will say there are more important things out there, and yes there are, but that is not to say we can’t do this as well.
“This is a building block and an enabler to get more jobs and more investment. Ultimately we have a lot of international investment in this region and more investment is going to arrive through an airport terminal. That is why this airport is so important. It is an international gateway to more investment and more jobs.”
PD Ports chief executive Frans Caije said: “The airport connects us to the wider world. The one thing that is unique about Teesside is the quality of the infrastructure and having the airport just completes it all.
“I have lived and worked here for 30 years now and it is an amazing place. I feel very privileged to call this home and lucky to have spent time here.
“Traditionally, we talk it down. But we need to shout about it and tell people it is a wonderful place and I am really looking forward to seeing the airport fully functioning and people coming here in huge numbers.”
And Bill Scott added: “Everyone who comes through arrivals will spend money in Teesside, and that is the added value of the airport.
“There are phenomenal businesses here on Teesside and we need to shout about it. The airport will definitely allow us to do that.
“We don’t shout out about what we have got in this region. Historically we have not done.”
This Is Tees Valley 2020 is a new publication aimed at showcasing businesses, lifestyle, people, tourist and living destinations across the Tees Valley area.
Supported by Tees Valley Combined Authority, more than 10,000 copies of the magazine will be distributed nationally and carried on all Eastern Airways flights from Teesside for the next year.