Stobart Group named Durham Tees Valley Airport operator

Durham Tees Valley Airport
Image caption,
Durham Tees Valley Airport has seen passenger numbers drop significantly in recent times

Stobart Group has been named as the new operator of Durham Tees Valley Airport.

The announcement comes two months after a £40m scheme to bring the airport back into public ownership was approved by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA).

Having struggled to attract passengers in recent years, a turnaround plan aims to increase numbers to 1.4m by 2022.

It is understood attracting low-cost carriers such as Flybe will be central to the scheme.

Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen described Stobart as having "experience and credibility".

He had previously warned the airport, near Darlington, could close if a buyout had not been agreed by the Labour leaders of Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, Hartlepool, Darlington, and Stockton councils.

Last year he described a thriving airport as the "missing piece of the jigsaw" for improving business in the area.

Image caption,
Ben Houchen's plans for the airport were central to his mayoral election campaign in 2017

Stobart will have a 25% stake in the company running the site with the remaining 75% belonging to the TVCA.

The firm also operates Carlisle Lake District Airport and London Southend Airport, as well as Stobart Air and Stobart Aviation Services.

Its head of corporate projects Kate Willard said the company was "pleased and proud" to take on the role of operator.

Funds to take the airport back into public ownership came from the TVCA's £513m investment fund.

The airport was losing £2.5m per year under its previous owner, Peel Group.

It is also expected to revert to its previous name of Teesside International Airport, which it had from 1966 to 2004.

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