A MAJOR route from a North East airport to London has shockingly been cancelled due to a sharp increase in costs which made it “unviable” to continue.

Teesside Airport’s route to the capital has been shelved after a sharp increase in take-off and landing fees forced provider Loganair to stop the popular route.

Heathrow Airport has been criticised for hiking its fees by 37 per cent, resulting in a charge of £30.10 per passenger which Teesside bosses branded “impossible” to afford.

Read more: Teesside Airport confirms SECOND route will also be scrapped after Heathrow axe

A daily service between the airports was re-established in September 2020 after a decade-long absence, when it was hailed as connecting Teesside to more than 180 destinations worldwide.

It was withdrawn last January amid the pandemic but Loganair took on the route in March.

The route has long been seen as crucial to the success of the airport, which was brought into public ownership in 2019. 

Read more: Ben Houchen slams Heathrow Airport as Teesside route ends

But the London Heathrow service will come to an end in two weeks, despite attempts to persuade Heathrow to lower the charges to allow for continued regional connectivity.

The Teesside to Southampton service will also stop as a result of the cessation of the London service as it cannot be accommodated on the remaining Loganair aircraft.

Mr Houchen blasted Heathrow for its decision, which he says will impact the region, in carrying out the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.

“This is daylight robbery, and it is disgraceful that Heathrow is attempted to line its own pockets at the expense of not just those passengers who regularly used the service but at the expense of everyone living in the region,” he said.

Bookings for the route had increased week by week, with last week being the best ever for forward bookings to London, but passengers will now have to revise their plans.

The Northern Echo:

A joint statement from Teesside Airport and Loganair said they will continue to work together, despite the route’s cancellation.

“This valued partnership is set to continue, with Loganair flights taking off from Teesside to major UK cities,” the statement read.

“There has been encouraging progress as the aviation industry recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, with bookings beginning to improve once again.

“However, a recent significant increase in Heathrow’s take-off and landing fees has led to a significant increase in costs.

“This, coupled with global oil prices affecting the cost of aviation fuel, means that the London Heathrow route from Teesside has become unviable and will end in two weeks.”

Teesside Airport continues its partnership with KLM, however, and said its service to Amsterdam Schipol will be improved to a double-daily service from May 23. 

The Northern Echo: Teesside International Airport signed a deal with airline partner KLM - securing flights to Amsterdam for five years in 2020.Teesside International Airport signed a deal with airline partner KLM - securing flights to Amsterdam for five years in 2020.

Passengers booked to travel to Southampton will be offered alternative flights or a full refund. Passengers booked to travel to London Heathrow will be offered a full refund.

Phil Forster, managing director of Teesside International Airport, said: “I’d like to thank all of our loyal passengers who have been supporting this service since its launch and apologise for the inconvenience this will cause. Rising costs across the industry have meant that the route is no longer viable and not something we could support without passing that on to our passengers.

“While slowly recovering, business flights were still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, immediately putting the route at a disadvantage. The aviation industry is also facing a challenging and complex time from a range of other external factors which we, as an airport, are working hard to mitigate.

“Loganair remains a committed partner to our airport, and we are working alongside other operators to increase our routes and destinations to give local people an airport they can be proud of. We are also seeing hugely strong forward bookings on our summer holiday routes with Ryanair and TUI, proving people want to get away and brighter days are ahead.”

Kay Ryan, chief commercial officer for Loganair, added: “I am extremely disappointed that Loganair will no longer provide a London Heathrow service due to rising costs, and completely understand the decision taken for all the reasons outlined.

“Customers affected by the cancellation will receive either an alternative routing if applicable, or a refund should they prefer that option.

“Those customers who booked their Heathrow travel via one our code share partners will receive any applicable alternatives direct from the airline they booked with, and not Loganair.

“We thank Teesside International airport for their support over the last 12 months, and looking forward to continuing our excellent working relationship.”

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: "Heathrow has a strong track record of supporting and investing in domestic routes. That’s why five of the ten busiest UK domestic routes already fly through Heathrow.

"Since 2017, we have discounted our charges for domestic flights and we continue to do so this year even though we have lost over £4bn during the pandemic. Over many months, we have had extensive engagement with Mayor Houchen’s office and Teesside officials to discuss solutions to help support this route.

"While Loganair’s decision is frustrating for us all, it is not from a lack of effort by Heathrow. We remain committed to seeing Teesside Airport connected with Heathrow."

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