THE first holiday flights to take off from Durham Tees Valley Airport in five years lifted off this weekend.

Holidaymakers were flying to Bulgaria just in time for the half-term holidays.

Balkan Holidays, which specialises in beach breaks to Bulgaria, has introduced a full programme of summer holiday charter flights to the low-cost destination.

The Northern Echo: Tees Valley Mayor Ben HouchenTees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen

Almost all seats on the first flight, at 8.40am on Saturday morning, were booked up, just days after Balkan Holidays confirmed it will now run a second summer of holidays flying direct from Teesside in 2020.

This year it is operating a weekly service to Bourgas, taking in beach resorts such as Sunny Beach, Nessebar and Golden Sands.

The Northern Echo:

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Balkan Holidays has shown confidence in our airport by bringing the first holiday flights for five years, and the response has been incredible. So many people have supported these breaks, allowing Balkan to start selling for 2020 already.

“This first flight isn’t just take-off for the passengers onboard, it’s also take-off for our 10-year rescue plan to deliver holiday flights from our international airport.”

The Northern Echo:

Louise Newton, Head of Marketing and PR at Balkan Holidays, said: “This is a great start to our exciting relationship with the airport and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, and we hope all of our customers have a fantastic time and make the most of the half-term holidays.”