A ROW over the future of Teesside Airport has been reignited as politicians clash over the cancellation of a popular route.

Loganair announced on Monday that it will no longer fly from the North East airport to London Heathrow due to an increase in take-off and landing fees. 

Labour MPs from the region have criticised the local leader for wasting funds on the regional airport.

But Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who earlier branded the decision “daylight robbery”, claimed the Labour MPs “champion bad news at Teesside”.

Read more: Teesside Airport's London route cancelled by Loganair

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, said: "I would recommend the Mayor turns his attention to building a green, world class public transport system to serve the people and businesses of the Tees Valley rather than continuing to throw good money after bad down the Teesside Airport drain."

Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham also criticised Mr Houchen by questioning his priorities for the airport. “Rather than announcing new gyms or gimmicks, the mayor should be dealing first with making sure the airport has flights and a sustainable future,” he said."

Mr McDonald added: "The economics at play in the airline industry have always meant the viability of the Teesside Heathrow link was precarious under the best of circumstances.”

The Northern Echo: Andy McDonald MP at Middlesbrough railway station, which has recently launched direct trains to London Kings Cross. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTAndy McDonald MP at Middlesbrough railway station, which has recently launched direct trains to London Kings Cross. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Earlier on Monday, Mr Houchen called on the Government to investigate Heathrow’s “short-sighted and ludicrous” increase in fees. 

But adding to the criticism of the mayor, Alex Cunningham  MP said: “There is no doubt the cancellation of the Teesside to Heathrow flight, announced a mere two years ago, is a massive blow to Teesside Airport especially as it comes on the back of Eastern Airways withdrawing services and Esken’s departure as operator.

“Heathrow bosses clearly have some questions to answer, especially around their commitments to regional connectivity, but so does the Tees Valley Mayor. Rather than announcing new gyms or gimmicks, the mayor should be dealing first with making sure the airport has flights and a sustainable future.

“Sadly, it looks like he’s taken his eye off the ball and is now lashing out to cover his tracks.

“Again this all comes down to transparency, something I have mentioned again and again. Tens of millions of our money is riding on the airport and we all want it to succeed and protect our investment – local people not only deserve to know exactly how their money is being spent on the Tees Valley Mayor’s airport project, but how wisely it’s being spent too.”

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

In response to the comments from the region’s MPs, Mr Houchen said: “The Labour MPs have shown their true colours again coming out to champion bad news at Teesside rather than back my calls against Heathrow Airport. You can hear a pin drop whenever good news has been announced on all the progress we’re making.

“I can’t believe Andy McDonald is calling for the defunding of Teesside airport and for it to close. Firstly, he backed Peel’s plan to turn the airport into a housing estate instead of my plan to save our airport and now he calls for its closure. Words fail me. Labour just do not get it.

“We’re investing hundreds of millions of pounds in Transport across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool which includes overhauling all our major train stations. I’d encourage them to read my plan instead of snipe from the side lines.”

The Northern Echo: Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen at the launch of the Heathrow route in 2020.Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen at the launch of the Heathrow route in 2020.

Rachel Anderson, assistant director of policy at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said the cancellation will have an adverse impact on business in the area. “This news is really disappointing for our businesses, in particular,” she said.

“These costs are also contrary to the spirit of the ‘levelling up’ agenda as good and reliable air services are crucial to us catching up with the rest of the UK.

“There has been positive passenger growth at Teesside Airport since the pandemic and as a chamber we very much support negotiations on routes which connect to major international airports.”

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

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, added: "This is a backwards step, seemingly motivated by little more than squeezing as much cash as possible out of passengers.

"That this is being done at the expense of regional airports, many of which connect to international flights from Heathrow, is as short-sighted as it is regressive."

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