A RESCUE plan to ensure the survival of a North-East airport has been published, as passenger numbers on key routes start to rise.

Following a two-month consultation, Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) bosses have issued a final version of a masterplan which aims to create 3,800 permanent jobs and support 450 during construction phases.

Between 250 and 400 homes are proposed for the site, with the sale of land for housing paying for other developments, including offices and warehousing.

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The plan for housing angered residents of nearby Middleton St George, who said local services would not cope with more users.

However, consultation showed that there was widespread local support for the draft proposals. 

The future of the loss-making airport had been called into question after a dramatic drop in passenger numbers and the loss of scheduled and charter flights.

The airport has been encouraged by a rise in passenger numbers on services to Amsterdam and Aberdeen, which were respectively up 16 per cent and 13 per cent on January to March last year, the latest figures showed. 

But DTVA's long term future hinges on income being generated from other activities, airport chiefs have said. 

Peter Nears, the airport's strategic planning director, said the final 180-page plan had taken into account concerns raised during consultation and he stressed that it reflected the commitment of owners Peel to safeguard the future of air services at DTVA.

He said: "The impact of the recession has made significant and lasting changes to the air travel industry and the Masterplan sets out how we can establish a viable business model and long-term investment strategy for Durham Tees Valley in the light of those changes.

"The reality is that many major operators, including low-cost carriers, now concentrate their activities at a limited number of airports and Durham Tees Valley is no different from a number of other smaller airports across the country in having to diversify income sources.

"One of the key strengths of Durham Tees Valley is its land holdings north and south of the runway and maximising the return from developing those assets holds the key to securing airport services.

"Of course, people have been concerned for the future following the fall in passenger numbers over recent years but I hope that they will now see that this plan does set out a path which, with support from our stakeholders, the business community and the public, can lead to a more secure future for Durham Tees Valley.

"Our task now is to move forward with key elements of the Master Plan and that will be happening in the very near future.

Key proposals in the Masterplan include:

*New developments on the north and south sides of the airport runway to establish DTVA as a leader in aviation related business. This will build on existing activity at the airport in, aircraft engineering, dismantling and recycling and lead to the creation of a multi-modal logistics centre.

*Northside development proposals include a mixture of offices and 250 to 400 homes, with associated community facilities and an extension to the on-site St George's Hotel.

*Development proposals on the Southside, which would be accessed by a new link road, comprise a logistics and business park, engine testing facility and additional aviation support facilities, including a new apron and associated hangars.

The finalised masterplan can be viewed at www.DTVA-Master-Plan.co.uk