BOSSES at a North-East airport have warned a proposed South-East aviation hub must include regional services.
Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) has welcomed a report saying a four-runway base would restore its links with London.
However, it says any plans must understand the importance of regional flights, which should not be dismissed in favour of international operations.
The report, from York Aviation and Oxford Economics, says a regular service between DTVA and a hub airport would deliver four flights a day by 2050, create thousands of jobs and bring £220m to the regional economy.
The loss-making airport saw its daily BMI service to Heathrow end in 2009.
The Airports Commission will decide on airport expansion in the South-East, with its shortlist including potential new runways at Heathrow and Gatwick.
However, Peter Nears, DTVA’s strategic planning director, said any new aviation base must understand the important of regional operations.
He said: “It’s pleasing the report recognises the importance of restoring links between regional airports and the South East.
“It also underlines the economic benefits for areas such as the Tees Valley which would arise from the restoration and enhancement of those links.
“We have no preference for any particular scheme, but what is pleasing is the commission and this report, recognise that what happens in the South-East has implications for all regions and their local airports.
“The prospect of restoring a direct link to a major London hub airport would be very good news for the airport, but our prime consideration is not so much where any new runways might be, but what assurances can be given provision will be secured for regional services.
“There must be sufficient planning and legal arrangements to ensure that, wherever additional capacity is provided in the South-East, there are sufficient slots available for regional services.
“Without such arrangements, there is a real danger the pattern of recent years, which has seen regional routes lost in order to feed the demand for international services, would simply continue.”
Earlier this year, DTVA published a rescue plan to ensure its survival, which includes aims to create 3,800 permanent jobs, with its future previously called into question after passenger numbers fell and scheduled and charter flights were lost.
Up to 400 homes are proposed for the site, with the sale of land for housing paying for other developments, including offices and warehousing.