Airport asked public to pay for new signs

First published in News

ROAD signs directing travellers to an airport have still not been updated - two years after its change of name caused outrage in the region.

Opponents criticised the decision to re-brand Teesside Airport and claimed that the cost of altering the signs - estimated at £250,000 - was a waste of money.

Last night, on the eve of the second anniversary of the switch to Durham Tees Valley, The Northern Echo learned that airport bosses had tried to get public cash to pay for the changes.

Airport owners Peel Holdings wanted a contribution from regional development agency One NorthEast - but were told: "You've had enough from us, already."

A spokesman for One NorthEast said: "We were approached for funding for new signage, but declined as we considered this a matter for the airport operators.

"However, One NorthEast has invested heavily in the future of the airport, funding a new £2m access road, the £530,000 passenger shuttle bus link from the main terminal to Darlington railway station and helped route development into Durham Tees Valley, such as the new Brussels service."

A total of 135 signs need to be replaced - some with wording and some with an aeroplane image - but bosses at the airport said that they were confident that they will be updated by the end of the year.

Project manager Gordon Smith said that the airport owners were on the verge of finalising an agreement with the Highways Agency to begin the work.

"Unfortunately, it has taken longer than we would have expected," said Mr Smith. "But we should be in a position fairly soon to get things under way."

The name-change was criticised by, among others, Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon, Stockton South MP Dari Taylor, and Redcar and Cleveland Council cabinet chairman, Eric Empsom.

But supporters of the move insisted that the name should reflect the entire region - saying the move was favoured by the airlines operating from the airport.

Bmibaby was among a number of airlines which pushed hard for the change in the hope that the Durham name would attract more passengers from Europe.

Last week, it was announced that the company was withdrawing its low-cost services from the airport - six year-round flights and two seasonal ones.

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