Teesside Airport to keep 'hated' passenger levy until 2020
An airport passenger fee is to remain at Teesside Airport to prevent a "financial black hole", despite it being taken back into public control.
The "hated" £6 per adult levy was introduced in 2010 by then owners Peel Airports, who said it would help secure the future of the loss-making facility.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen pledged to scrap the fee when he sealed a £40m deal to buy the airport in January.
But it is set to stay until April to bring in about £900,000.
Passengers pay the fee at machines in the terminal which issue tickets, enabling them to pass through security and into departure areas.
The airport, near Darlington, is now operated by Stobart Group and reverted to Teesside Airport from Durham Tees Valley Airport last month.
Conservative mayor Mr Houchen said: "I want to again confirm that the tax will be removed and Stobart Group want it gone as well.
"However, the charge currently brings in around £900,000 a year into the airport's accounts.
"To remove it instantly would leave a huge black hole in our finances.
"As we grow the airport our financial position will improve and I will then remove the fee."
Passenger numbers at the airport stood at about 143,000 in 2018 - down from a peak of more than 900,000 in 2006.
But the airport's master plan aims to bring the total above one million in the next decade by bringing in a low-cost airline carrier, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Stobart runs the airport in a 25/75 split with the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
The firm did not wish to comment on the levy.