AN airline’s decision to permanently scrap two routes from Teesside Airport has been met with concern – as a row has broken out between politicians.

Labour MP Andy McDonald has raised concerns after it today emerged Eastern Airways would be withdrawing two of its routes - instead, resuming one from Newcastle.

The airline, which has not yet explained why it has pulled the routes, has since removed tickets for flights to Aberdeen and Southampton beyond September.

Rival carrier Loganair will continue to operate its own Teesside to Aberdeen service, however the Southampton route will be axed altogether.

Read more: Teesside Airport sees TWO routes terminated as airline cancels bookings

It comes just weeks after the airport saw the private operator, Esken - formerly the Stobart Group - hand back its 25 percent stake just two years after being brought in. 

The Northern Echo:

On Tuesday, the MP for Middlesbrough said the most recent announcement was "not good news," as he said the case for funding had been brought into "serious question."

Speaking to The Northern Echo, he said: "Stobart, who operated the airport, told us they could secure a greater market share at Teesside and in doing so secured an incredible deal for themselves.

"They were paid a fortune to run the airport, but they failed and went into liquidation and their successor Esken have now withdrawn from the airport altogether.  

"Mr Houchen has ploughed millions of pounds of precious taxpayer’s money into the airport, yet with these announcements from Eastern Airways of the withdrawal of further services, the business case for doing so is being brought into serious question."

The Northern Echo:

Labour MP for Middlesbrough, Andy McDonald 

Addressing the financing of Teesside Airport following the airline’s decision, Mr McDonald said there needed to be a “thorough” review of transport priorities for those in the Tees Valley.

He said: "We need a serious and objective assessment as to the sort of investment that will really improve the daily ability of the 660,000 people of the Tees Valley to get to work, to school and college, to the shops, to the doctors and to hospital in a sustainable way. 

"I’m afraid pouring yet more millions into the airport will neither improve the daily transport experience for hundreds of thousands of Tees Valley residents nor improve our economic fortunes.” 

The Northern Echo:

The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has hit back Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

But hitting back, the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen accused Mr McDonald of having "hatred" for the airport as he branded his comments as "nonsense."

He said: “The Middlesbrough MP’s deafening silence a couple of weeks ago when TUI announced a new route to Turkey and the disappearing act when we secured Ryanair portrays his true hatred of Teesside Airport.

“If Andy had a clue what was going on, he would realise the airport has gone from two routes to 15 routes since we brought it back into public ownership to save it from closure, as well as saving the hundreds of jobs and livelihoods it supports.

"It’s disappointing always having to listen to the negativity from the Labour MP, talking Teesside down and wishing the airport to fail during a global pandemic.

"He is out of touch and I feel for the airport’s staff and their families who work their socks off and have to put up with this nonsense week in week out from the Labour party.

“There was a public assessment of the region’s transport priorities in May when the public voted overwhelmingly for my plan which got 73 percent of the vote.”

The Northern Echo:

Labour MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham

The Labour MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham later appeared to echo Mr McDonald's comments, saying today’s revelation had been a “major blow” for the airport.

He said: “This is another major blow for the airport and the Tees Valley Mayor, following so quickly after Stobart jumped ship.

“A lot of our money is riding on the airport and we all want it to succeed and protect our investment – local people deserve to know exactly how their money is being spent on the Tees Valley Mayor’s airport project.

“I just hope the Mayor isn’t going to spend even more of our money on this project when some of our communities still suffer from a totally inadequate public transport system.

“He needs to come clean on the finances, stop hiding from scrutiny with petty attacks, and set out his plans to stop more flights being cut from the airport.”

Earlier this year, Mr Houchen faced calls from Labour to have more visibility on where taxpayer’s money is spent.

At the time, Mr Houchen claimed “there is not a more transparent airport in the country,” as he said the airport is scrutinised with reports that come back to councillors who are Labour, Conservative and Independent.


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