Flights to Malaga from Teesside Airport are a matter of 'when not if' Tees Valley Mayor pledges.

Five years on from bringing the airport back to public ownership Mayor Ben Houchen is looking at new routes abroad.

His top priority is securing a Malaga flight in the near future.

Lord Houchen is regularly contacted by passengers asking about that route in particular.

When asked about his dream destinations and the ones he is realistically targeting next he said: "Ideally, it would be great to have flights to the west coast of the US. In the early 2000s we had flights to Costa Rica and Orlando.

"There’s no reason that at some point in the future that can’t happen.

"The one that would make a hell of a difference, would be Malaga and Tenerife.

"We get asked constantly about that. I’m confident that the Malaga flight will come, it’s just a question of when rather than if."

In the months since the end of March 2023, the airport has celebrated its best year for passengers in 11 years.

Lord Houchen added: "These figures show that the airport is on course to meet its turnaround plan and it’s a further demonstration that I was right to secure a deal to bring it back into public ownership.

"Let’s not forget, if I hadn’t, it would now be closed, jobs would have been lost, our connection with the rest of the world would have gone and the site replaced with a housing estate.

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"We know international investors arrive through an airport terminal, not a bus, and the wider knock-on effects for the economy of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are clear to see. Recent major investors in our area – including those at Teesworks – have named the airport as one of the key reasons they made the decision to come to our area.

"Without the airport, we also wouldn’t have millions upon millions of pounds being invested in Sustainable Aviation Fuel by numerous companies, helping to put the region front-and-centre leading the world in a cleaner aviation industry.

"With the Airport Business Park ready and raring to go, I’ve no doubt it’s onward and upward for Teesside Airport."