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Durham Tees Valley Airport says masterplan could provide platform for Regional Growth Fund bid
AN ambitious masterplan to galvanise a North-East airport could provide the platform for a fresh cash bid to develop the site, The Northern Echo can reveal.
Bosses at Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) say they haven't ruled out making another funding application after unveiling proposals to offset loss-making passenger operations with an expanded business hub.
Earlier this year, ministers snubbed £4.65m plans to create an aircraft recycling, firefighter training and freight services zone on land south of the runway, which DTVA said could have supported 1,400 jobs.
It was was the second time in less than a year the airport's parent company Peel Group had failed to secure Government Regional Growth Fund (RGF) money.
However, Peter Nears, Peel's strategic planning director, says they are still open to all funding options, which he believes would become more attainable if supported by a strong masterplan and business development.
The airport's hangars already house global aerospace and defence firm Cobham and Sycamore Aviation, which dismantles aircraft and recovers high-value parts for clients across the world, with Serco's International Training Centre also based on the site.
He said: “The RGF was a particular disappointment because we felt we had a strong bid.
“That is why we are working on this masterplan, it will put into context what we are doing and allow people to understand our aims.
“We are cautious about going for RGF again but if we get this plan in place and it goes down well, then it could be something to think about.
“These plans can take the airport forward, some will look and say it isn't being conscientious, but our eye is firmly on the ball.
“As the economy begins to come back, we can move forward by maximising the opportunities that are there for us.”
Bosses from Serco and Cobham previously told The Northern Echo they remain committed to the airport, which Mr Nears says is proof of the site's eminence.
He said: “It is important that we attract more companies like those.
“They obviously see the airport as a place where they can operate and everything we are doing is for the benefit of this airport.”
WHO IS AT THE AIRPORT?
Cobham - The aerospace company employs about 90 workers at the airport, and maintains air traffic and navigation systems for Heathrow Airport and Falkland Islands' military airbases.
It operates Falcon 20s that provide air support to Ministry of Defence training and emulate a range of threats to warships and aircraft.
A spokesman told The Northern Echo: “We have no plans to leave the airport because we see it as the base of our Northern operations for the foreseeable future.”
Serco - The firm operates its International Fire Training Centre at the airport, which has been based at the site since 1981.
In the last RGF bid, Serco partnered airport bosses on plans for the Southside development, that included a new £7.4m complex featuring training rigs, a virtual reality test centre, and accommodation for trainees.
In August, it confirmed it was staying at the airport, despite the RGF snub, and said it wanted to invest in its existing centre.
Sycamore Aviation - Operating from a hangar used by Lancaster Bomber crews in the Second World War, its team of engineers dismantle aircraft and recover spares off for clients around the world.
Founded by former Thomas Cook and Jet2 captain, Kevin O'Hare, it has already worked on Boeing 737s and Airbuses.
It wanted to move into a purpose-built hangar on land south of the runway to handle jumbo jets.
However, airport bosses say those plans could still come to fruition if their masterplan is successful.
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