A DIRECTOR of Durham Tees Valley airport has told councillors how it can be saved - despite losing 77 per cent of its passengers since 2006.

Peter Nears, strategic planning director at owners Peel Group, provided details of a masterplan to develop businesses at the site to Stockton Borough Council.

He also welcomed a Government announcement to fund a new road to the airport's south side, opening up 150 acres of land. Councillors heard that it will also press Government for a new airport train station.

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However Mr Nears, who appeared before the Transport and Regeneration Committee, would not be drawn on how long the airport, which recorded losses of more than £3.6m last year, had to turn around the business.

Cllr Phil Dennis asked: “Is there a date at which the company would cut its losses?”

Mr Nears replied: “I don’t know. I’m not an accountant."

Pressed by Cllr Norma Stephenson on the fall in passenger numbers, from a high of 917,963 in 2006 to 161,092 last year, he explained airports which spent a lot of money attracting airlines had lost more money, despite attracting more passengers.

He said business travel to Aberdeen and Amsterdam was increasing and Peel Airports would push for guaranteed air routes to London, which could be worth £220m a year to Durham Tees Valley.

In the meantime, the airport will press ahead with its masterplan, involving the sale of land for 250 to 400 homes.

The money raised will be used to grow more business capacity, including logistics and warehouse companies while the new road will open up the airport's south side for business.