Abandoning ships for blue sky thinking?

First published in Talking Business

GOOD luck to Andy Foulds in his new role as the commercial director of Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA). Owner Peel Holdings said the appointment underlined its commitment to make the airport a success. Let’s hope so. If the region has any chance of continuing its impressive export performance it needs every bit of infrastructure at its disposal.

Since BMI pulled flights from DTVA to London in 2009, The Northern Echo has been running a Keep The Region Flying campaign in a bid to remind business leaders, politicians and passengers that we all should pull together to retain this vital transport hub.

Mr Foulds said he would leave no stone unturned in his search to boost business on both the aviation side and in the wider development of the overall site. “I would not have joined if I did not think it could be brought back to health,” he said on Monday.

His predecessors made similarly upbeat claims but struggled to bring new scheduled flights to the airport.

Without KLM’s three daily services to Amsterdam the site would be a dead duck as a passenger facility. Peel’s recent bid for £5.9m cash from the Regional Growth Fund to develop a huge freight operation was a strong indication of the company’s strategy to balance the books.

It is also interesting to note that Andy’s background is in shipping rather than in the aviation industry. He spent 18 years with container operator Moller-Maersk before joining the Port of Tyne Authority. Is his appointment an indication that Peel will focus efforts primarily on attracting new freight and ancillary services rather than expending energy on boosting the passenger side of the operation?

We’ll be speaking to him later this week to hear his plans.

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