TEESSIDE Airport recorded significant losses in the past year with finances deep in the red by almost £14m, it can today be revealed.

Latest accounts have revealed how the airport has recorded its highest ever loss since being returned to public ownership in 2019, with £13.8m lost in the last financial year.

The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has since admitted that the ten-year rescue plan has been amended as a new ‘business plan’ is due to be presented to the Tees Valley Combined Authority cabinet later this week.

Read more: 25 pictures of the moment Teesside's iconic Dorman Long Tower was demolished

Last night, Labour MP for Stockton North Alex Cunningham said the loss had been “substantial” for the airport and that he hoped Mr Houchen’s promises would come to fruition.

The Northern Echo:

Some extracts of the business plan, which have been seen by The Northern Echo, revealed how the loss was greater than originally forecast due to the impact of Covid, however significant details relating to the airport's finances are still not publicly disclosed.

Saying the impact of Covid was “in line” with other airports, airport officials said domestic business travel had been “very slow” to return as restrictions were lifted but they remained confident it would gradually return.

The staggering figure comes as the airport lost millions in the year before the Covid pandemic, with accounts showing £3.6m was lost in the previous financial year.

It also comes as it emerged earlier this year that the airport would get a further £10m of taxpayer money to help “enable the airport to stay on track for its recovery plan.”

Read more: Teesside Airport to get extra £10m from public purse

But speaking to The Echo, the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen last night said the past year’s losses would be “slashed” as he said the airport would return to profit by 2024.

He said: “This will be slashed in the next year, we will be going back into profit within the next two to three years.”

The Northern Echo:

Appearing to base this on a figure of attracting more than 400,000 passengers next year, Mr Houchen said this would be possible following the refit, the securing of new routes and substantial investment in freight and logistics.

Revealing that there were long-term plans to see more routes from Ryanair, and to see another low-cost carrier operate from Teesside, he said he still believed the airport could hit 1m passengers by the tenth year. 

But according to figures from the Civil Aviation Authority, there were only 130,911 passengers through the terminal doors in 2017, 142,080 passengers in 2018 and 150,735 in 2019.

Figures for 2020 and 2021 so far, showed there were 28,540 and 29,559 passengers respectively, as the travel industry was hit by the impact of the Covid pandemic and the airport was closed for around four months last year.

Read more: Mayor breaks ground on new Teesside Airport project

However, Mr Houchen admitted passenger numbers alone would not help the airport sustain long-term profits, with the development of the Southside business park for logistics and freight being a key factor.

He said: “When we first set out the business plan, we didn’t want to be overly optimistic, it was predicated around us driving up footfall with low-cost carriers, but we are now building in the big plans for the Southside.

“There will eventually be people who will not just use the airport for cargo – we’re planning the construction of three manufacturing sheds in February, next year.”

He added that an investor had shown an interest in moving into a 100,000 sq ft development, while saying maintenance firm and existing tenant, Willis could potentially expand its current site on the airport. 

The Northern Echo:

Responding to Mr Houchen’s claims, Labour MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham said he “sincerely hoped” such plans would come to fruition.

He said: “Covid or not, £13.8m is a substantial loss and follows Stobart walking away from their contract and commitment to make the airport a success and the Tees Valley Mayor’s injection of a further £10m of taxpayer’s money into his project to get his Ten-Year Plan back on track.

“The Mayor assures us that the airport will return a profit within the next three years and expects us to take this claim at face value.”

Mr Cunningham, who earlier this year described the loss of two Eastern Airways routes – one to Aberdeen and one to Southampton – as a “major blow,” suggested that Mr Houchen share the financial projections behind his claims to bring the airport back into profit by 2024.

Read more: Labour MP raises concern at Teesside Airport after Eastern pull routes

He said: “Given the crisis in the aviation industry, it’s only fair that local people have a chance to see the projections behind his claim so they can be sure they will get a return on their money.

“I sincerely hope planned flights with Ryanair and other plans around the airport do have the impact he hopes for and ensure the airport starts to return the many millions of pounds Mr Houchen has spent on it.

“This will allow the Tees Valley Combined Authority to concentrate on other pressing priorities such as job creation, training and skills, as well as good quality public transport which our Teesside communities desperately need.”

Teesside Airport said work to begin on the new business park would begin next month with a new access road and roundabout starting construction next month. 


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