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The Chairman of Durham Tees Valley Airport has praised what he described as the ‘remarkable and encouraging support’ received from the region’s business community and other partners over recent months.

Robert Hough, speaking in advance of tonight’s North East Chamber of Commerce Tees Valley Dinner—sponsored this year by the airport—stressed the firm commitment of majority shareholders Peel Investments (DTVA) and the local authority shareholders to secure the future of Durham Tees Valley as a key player in the area’s economy.

Said Mr Hough “I hope that our sponsorship of this major business event in the Tees Valley underlines both our appreciation for the support we have received since becoming majority shareholders in February—and our determination to ensure that the airport has a bright future.

“There are certainly some good signs—over recent months our key services have performed well. Following the major marketing campaign launched with our long-standing airline partner KLM the service between Durham Tees Valley and Amsterdam Schiphol—which, of course, provides access to air routes worldwide—has shown encouraging increases in load factors…in other words the percentage of seats filled…and business has also been buoyant on the Eastern Airways service to Aberdeen.

“The summer programme between Durham Tees Valley and Jersey, operated by Channel Island Travel Services and flybe, has been well over 90 per cent sold, whilst Thomson has shown significantly increased business on its Palma service, coupled with a rise in bookings for next summer.

“Although general market conditions remain challenging, we are continuing to explore possible additional services and routes with airlines and operators, but it is important to emphasise that the future of Durham Tees Valley is dependent on us exploiting business opportunities for the airport site as a whole.

“A key element of our plans is the potential for the ‘Southside project’, a ten year scheme to develop 150 acres of land to the south side of the runway, and we are currently awaiting a decision on our bid for £5.9million from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund for infrastructure works on the site.

“We are also pursuing a range of other development opportunities which could make a significant contribution to securing the airport’s future and the message we want to underline by our sponsorship of tonight’s event is that we are in it for the long term and we appreciate the support we are receiving.”