PASSENGER numbers at a loss-making airport have fallen again, according to official figures.

Latest figures show Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) welcomed 12,111 flyers in July, a 16.6 per cent drop on the same month last year.

The airport also catered for 347 flights in the month, down 9.6 per cent from 12 months ago.

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However, bosses say the figures, released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), are representative of its marked shift away from holiday charter services.

They said the airport, which saw passenger numbers hit their peak in 2006 when nearly a million people used its terminal, is now focused on daily flights to Aberdeen and Amsterdam that are relied upon by business people.

They added like-for-like traffic between July 2013 and June 2014 stood at 140,922 passengers, which was a four per cent rise on the previous period.

Steve Gill, DTVA’s managing director, said the changes to flights would give the site a stronger base to operate.

He said: “We plan to re-position the airport to focus on business and general aviation.

“This will enable us to work towards expanding and diversifying our aviation and non-aviation activities across a broader base and grow back passenger services.

“This is envisaged to provide additional UK and global connections for the region’s business community who have a significant need to access international markets.”

The airport shocked passengers last year when it revealed it had scrapped all flights to summer holiday destinations for 2014, with schedules due to be operated by Thomson and First Choice axed.

Thomson operated charter flights to Alicante, Tenerife and Palma Mallorca, and had announced plans for a new service to Ibiza.

Earlier this year, DTVA bosses published a rescue plan to ensure its survival, focusing on developments on the north and south sides of the runway to add to existing activity in aircraft engineering and recycling, build up to 400 homes, and create a logistics and business park.

Mr Gill added: “The purchase of a significant development site on the north eastern edge of the airport demonstrates our commitment to deliver a long-term future for the airport so we can continue to make a positive contribution to the economy of the Tees Valley and beyond.”

The CAA figures also revealed Newcastle International Airport saw 4,428 flights in July, which was 0.6 per cent higher than the same time last year, with passenger numbers 1.8 per cent higher at 524,577.