A MULTI-MILLION pound deal that could bring hundreds of new jobs will help secure the long-term future of Teesside International Airport.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen flew out to America to hold in-depth talks with a global aviation firm wanting to secure its next stage of investment at Teesside.

Willis Lease Finance Corporation, which already has a huge base at the airport, is believed to be planning up to four more hangers in a multi-million pound investment that would create hundreds of highly-skilled roles.

The Mayor spent three days negotiating with the group, including its CEO and Chairman Charles F Willis IV, ahead of a potential deal which could be confirmed in the next few weeks.

The company's subsidiary, Willis Asset Management, currently leases Hangar 1 and Hangar 1A at the airport to allowing it to house aircraft and parts while carrying out maintenance and disassembly of aircraft.

Read more: Duty Free is back at airport

The new talks involve the potential for the company to invest again at the site as the airport looks to capitalise on its valuable property and land, as well as the new opportunities coming from it being part of the Teesside Freeport.

If it goes ahead, the new development would be earmarked for land at the airport that was once due to be turned into a large housing estate of 350 homes. With Mayor Houchen bringing the airport into public ownership, this land, close to the airport terminal and runway, could now be kept for its intended purposes, growing the region’s aviation industry.

He said: “When I brought the airport into public ownership and saved it from closure, we struck a £40million deal, which included £5million to buy land which was going to be turned into a 61-acre housing development to make sure that wouldn’t go ahead.

“Thanks to that forward-thinking move, we have the potential to secure a multi-million pound investment now, many times greater than that initial outlay, which could also help create a couple of hundred very highly skilled jobs for people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

The Northern Echo: Willis, led by CEO Charles F Willis IV, is looking to expand its Teesside operationWillis, led by CEO Charles F Willis IV, is looking to expand its Teesside operation

“Willis joined our airport in spring 2020, just after the start of the pandemic, and that hasn’t hindered it in ramping up its operations. It welcomed its first aircraft, a Boeing 737, in August last year and since then we’ve seen more and more pass into our hangars.

“These talks were incredibly positive and I’m encouraged that we’ll soon be able to officially announce some more exciting news for Teesside International – and our region.” 

The existing Willis facility at the airport includes a 45,000 square foot hangar that can accommodate up to three narrowbody aircraft. It says the site is ideal for short-term storage and aircraft which may become 'end-of-life' and it has "immediate space available and line maintenance approvals covering all Boeing, Airbus, E-Jet and regional types".

Willis first announced it was going to use Teesside as its base for European aircraft maintenance in May last year. Described by Ben Houchen as "a fantastic coup", the company agreed to lease the first two hangars, but with the potential  for expansion with additional hangar facilities and more jobs.

Garry Failler, senior vice president and chief technical officer of Willis Lease Finance Corporation said then: “We’ve been very impressed with how quickly things have progressed at Teesside International Airport and their forward-thinking, as well as their drive to attract business from outside of the region.

"We see significant potential in the market segment at Teesside and we are excited to start working with the airport and its partners going forward.”


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Teesside Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054