AIRPORT bosses have welcomed Government plans to revive a London link.

Officials at Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) say its inclusion on a provisional Heathrow domestic flights list represents “good news” for passengers and exporting businesses.

The Northern Echo revealed in October that the Government was eyeing DTVA as part of an expanded Heathrow, with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling saying he was “keen to see more flights” at the North-East airport.

Any rekindling of the route would deliver a major fillip for DTVA, which has relied heavily on KLM’s Aberdeen and Amsterdam flights since BMI withdrew its Heathrow service in 2009.

According to the Department for Transport (DFT), it “expects” DTVA to be added to Heathrow’s domestic network by 2030, alongside Belfast International, Liverpool, Newquay, Humberside and Prestwick, when the London site gets a third runway.

The DFT has now started consultation on plans for that runway.

Reacting to Whitehall’s update, Steve Gill, DTVA chief executive, said the airport’s role in an expanded Heathrow would give holidaymakers and business leaders scope to connect to international hubs with greater ease.

He said: “The announcement that the Government sees the increase in domestic routes as one of the key objectives of expansion at Heathrow is good news.

“Connectivity into the UK’s global hub is key to supporting economic growth of the regions and secured slots for regional services will ensure the economic benefits, including inbound tourism, are felt across the UK.

“We look forward to working with Heathrow and airline partners to explore the opportunities offered by the expansion programme.

“A project of this kind will take considerable time, but I am sure areas such as the Tees Valley will hope progress on increasing regional connectivity can move forward as quickly as possible.”

Speaking to the Echo in October, Mr Grayling said he was keen for DTVA to play its part in increasing the UK’s global links.

He added: “Durham Tees Valley has suffered a lot in recent years, and I am keen to see more flights at the airport, particularly around the UK.

“I am absolutely clear the third runway has to happen and therefore create new domestic routes across the UK, including the North-East.”

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, which has long backed Heathrow’s expansion, said a London connection would further strengthen the region’s exporting prowess.

The area has long been the only one in the country to have a consistently positive balance of trade.

He added: “Investment in Heathrow is crucial to the long-term future of our economy and the maximisation of the potential of our exporting businesses.”

The new runway is not expected to be operational until around 2025.