A ‘NEW DAWN’ has been hailed for Teesside International Airport as new flights to six major connection routes have been unveiled.

Yesterday, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen swooped into the airport with Eastern Airways managing director Tony Burgess, to announce the new flights which include Dublin, Belfast City and the return of daily flights to London City.

This will be the first time in 11 years that Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool will be connected to the capital by air from an airport on their doorstep.

There will also be daily direct connections to Cardiff, Southampton and flights to the Isle of Man on a seasonal service.

This announcement, which includes 37 new flights per week, is hoped to add 185,000 seats each year.

An engineering base will also be created at the airport to serve the aircraft operating the new Eastern Airways routes.

Mr Houchen said: “Ever since we brought the airport back into public ownership, one of the biggest and most frequent questions we’ve been asked from businesses and local people has been when will direct flights to London return.

“For too long, we’ve lacked this most basic connection, which is why I’m delighted to announce today’s new services which will bring the Tees Valley even closer to the capital with a twice-daily service.

“Our airport is hugely important to our local economy and the investment that will create the good quality, well-paid jobs we all want to see come to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool won’t come on a bus, it will come via our airport terminal.

“That’s on top of the raft of other fantastic flights, which represent a massive vote of confidence in our airport and region. Eastern Airways shares our vision for fantastic transport connections and has worked with the airport for years. They really understand exactly what our local people and businesses will love.

“This isn’t job done, this is the next stage in our 10-Year Rescue Plan to secure the future of Teesside International. In fact, it’s only the first phase of Eastern’s multi-year commitment, with plenty of opportunity to expand and increase flights in the future.”

Eastern Airways, which currently operates the Aberdeen service from the airport, will increase its commitment by adding five new daily routes as well as a seasonal service and an increased number of Aberdeen flights.

Tony Burgess, managing director of Eastern Airways, said: “Eastern Airways is one of the longest serving airlines to fly from Teesside International serving the critical corporate oil and gas market with flights to Aberdeen.

“We’re delighted to now be strengthening our ties with the airport and branching out to bring enhanced connectivity to some new city destinations for business and leisure travellers.

“I’m sure these flights will be popular and we are continuing to look at how we can further develop our network for all regions.”

Peter Downes, aviation director at London City Airport said: “Domestic routes like these create prosperity and we are delighted to be playing an ever more important role in better connecting Britain.”

Katy Best, commercial director at Belfast City Airport, added: “This service will further enhance air access from Northern Ireland to the North-East of England. Improving connectivity to and from Northern Ireland is of the upmost importance to the region and we welcome the return of Eastern Airways, a sixth airline partner at our airport.”