PLANS for thousands of pounds worth of improvements at a North-East airport have been unveiled this morning.

Durham Tees Valley Airport has announced it will make improvements to its passenger facilities.

The first phase of the investment programme will be completed by the end of September, involving extensive remodelling of the departure lounge.

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This will include the provision of free unlimited Wi-Fi, together with designated work stations and charging points, and improved retail services under a new ‘Xpress’ brand.

The second phase, which could start as early as the autumn, will see further improvements, including the return of tax-free shopping and a major upgrade of the business lounge area.

In addition there will be a revamp of the Airport’s Privilege Membership Club.

The announcement comes just days after the newly-elected Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen began talks with the airport's owners, Peel, about it's future.

Mr Houchen, who pledged to buy the loss-making airport during his election campaign, said the meeting was "positive" and "constructive".

Speaking about today's announcement, Mr Houchen said: “I have agreed with the airport not to give a running commentary about negotiations but I note their announcement.”

Robert Hough, chair of Durham Tees Valley Airport said: “This programme of improvements in the terminal is another stage in our continuing investment at Durham Tees Valley and the overall developments being implemented through the Masterplan, including for example the drive to attract more general aviation activity and providing a one-stop service for all aspects of ground handling.

“These improvements in the terminal, which in part have been supported through the Passenger Facility Fee, are all aimed at enhancing a low-hassle, comfortable and business friendly environment for passengers whilst they are with us.

“A key element, of course, is customer service which is why we are developing our training for staff.”

The airport, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary as an international transport hub, has seen flight and passenger numbers tumble in recent years - relying solely on Aberdeen and Amsterdam routes.

However, it was revealed in October that the airport had been chosen as one of six potential new domestic routes from Heathrow, the UK’s biggest airport.

Warner Rootliep, general manager for Air France KLM in the UK & Ireland, said he “welcomed” the investment news.

“We currently offer three daily flights from Durham Tees Valley to our hub at Amsterdam Schiphol with seamless and convenient connections to exciting destinations worldwide.

“For this reason, we welcome the new investment in the terminal facilities which will greatly improve the customer experience for our loyal passengers in the Tees Valley region.

“We have a long-standing successful relationship with Durham Tees Valley Airport and look forward to the unveiling of the new facilities in the near future”

The Airport says there should be minimal disruption for customers whilst the improvement work is underway.