SUBSTANTIAL losses have been announced this week at Teesside Airport.

In the last financial year, which was blighted by Covid lockdown and travel restrictions, the airport lost £13.8m.

Now that the airport has been taken back into public control, for a cost of about £40m, by Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, these are figures that need public scrutiny and discussion. Is this too much a price to pay?

However, we supported Mr Houchen’s popular plans in 2017 to effectively nationalise the airport, and the reasons for that support have not really changed: a go-ahead, manufacturing region will benefit economically from having an airport, with the prospect of flying off on holiday from the doorstep being icing on the cake.

Perhaps the environmental case for the airport has altered, but that is a question for the whole aviation industry to address.

Without Mr Houchen’s intervention, the airport would almost certainly have closed by now, and its only future would be as a giant housing estate. We still want to give it a chance to avoid such a fate.

Many businesses – and people – have required government support to survive the pandemic, and the airport is no exception. That support needs to be on-going, for people on Universal Credit and, indeed, for businesses like the airport which should be valuable once more.

Mr Houchen believes the airport will be profitable by 2024 which, of course, is when the people of the Tees Valley will be directly able to pass judgement on his expenditure and methods in giving the airport a flying chance.