A ROW between a North East Mayor and the bosses of the UK's biggest airport has escalated as the fall out from the cancellation of a flight from Teesside intensifies. 

Teesside Airport’s Heathrow connection was axed earlier this month following a sharp increase in take-off and landing fees forced provider Loganair to stop the route.

Read more: Teesside Airport's Heathrow route is AXED after sharp rise in costs

Heathrow Airport had 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.

Following the announcement, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen launched a scathing attack on Heathrow, accusing them of "daylight robbery" and urging the Government to investigate the “short-sighted and ludicrous” increase in fees.

But speaking exclusively to The Northern Echo, Ross Baker, chief commercial officer at Heathrow Airport, said the door always remains open for a return, adding: "The people of Teesside deserve to know that this is not from a lack of effort by Heathrow."

Read more: Exclusive: London Heathrow pushes for return of Teesside Airport route

He also said he was "disappointed" in Mr Houchen's comments, "particularly given the work Heathrow has been engaged in behind the scenes."

But in response, Mr Houchen said Heathrow bosses "didn’t even have the decency" to respond to a letter from Teeside Airport and accused them of offering up "weasel words".

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 - but Mr Baker said this decision was "not down to Heathrow charges".

He added: Over the past six months, we have held detailed discussions and met many times with Teesside Airport, mayor Ben Houchen and his office to find different solutions to help support the Teesside-Heathrow route.

"We have been keen to make this route just as successful as many of our other domestic connections. Our CEO, John Holland-Kaye, visited the airport, freeport and local businesses in December 2021 to understand how we can help maximise the benefits of a Heathrow connection for the region, as we fully recognise the importance of the exports from this area in making Heathrow such a big port.

"Frustratingly now, a commercial decision has been taken to end the route. The people of Teesside deserve to know that this is not from a lack of effort by Heathrow and nor is it down to our charging structure.

"Indeed, despite the decision to drop the Teesside connection, Loganair and others are still operating various domestic flights at Heathrow with the same charging structure in place.

"We’ve also just seen UK regional airline Flybe relaunch domestic services to Leeds and Loganair to the Isle of Man from Heathrow. The proof is in the pudding – airlines are operating many domestic services successfully at Heathrow.

"With Loganair also deciding to pull another Teesside service to Southampton, it demonstrates it’s not down to Heathrow charges that routes are being cancelled. This is why we are disappointed in the Mayor’s comments, particularly given the work Heathrow has been engaged in behind the scenes.

"We want to see Teesside Airport connected with Heathrow and onwards to the world. Our door is always open and we will continue to work with the Mayor, Teesside International and local businesses and regional leaders to find a way forward."

Mr Houchen said: 

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We held numerous discussions with John Holland-Kaye and the Heathrow team, lots of warm words then no action or substance to back them up on what was agreed. They didn’t even have the decency to respond to our last letter a month ago. 

“The reality is the hike in fees added £1.2m to the cost of the Heathrow route and while the airport pays lip service in wanting to re-establish the link with Teesside they are doing nothing to address the extraordinary and unjustifiable increase in landing fees which caused the route to be cancelled.

“Some weasel words as an ‘exclusive’ to one of the region’s newspapers saying ‘it wasn’t our fault’ will not cut through to the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, who can see through this sheer greed from Heathrow bosses trying to line their on pockets while on seven-figure salaries.

“It’s a desperate attempt on the day American Express and other global firms are rightly calling out this nonsense.”