WORK is due to start today on a £750,000 improvement programme at one of the region's airports.

The work will begin as Teesside International Airport's new managing director takes up his post, and the airport also announces another rise in both its passenger and freight business.

The scheme will transform facilities in the airport's departure areas to help cope with increased passenger numbers, now running at more than three quarters of a million a year.

Figures announced today show that in November passenger numbers rose by almost six per cent, compared to the same month last year, with the number of holiday charter passengers up by well over 4,000.

Air cargo business rose by more than 33 per cent, compared to November last year, and the airport is set for another big boost to its freight business with the decision by Royal Mail to operate a daily service between Teesside and Gatwick, in the light of the Christmas postal rush and the continuing problems on the rail network.

Today sees the arrival of managing director Hugh Lang, who joins the airport after playing a role in the rapid expansion of Glasgow Prestwick International in recent years.

He said the departure area development underlined Teesside's commitment to continuing growth.

He said: "With the growth in business we need high high-quality facilities which are able to deal with the large passenger numbers coming through the airport, especially during the peak summer period.

"The scheme involves using the space currently taken up by two separate lounges to create a single departure area which can be used by both domestic and international passengers, including new and improved restaurant, bar and extensive shopping facilities.

"We are also creating new access points to make it easier for passengers to board their aircraft.

"We aim to have the scheme completed in good time for the start of the main holiday programme next year, which promises to be even busier than this year's record-breaking summer, with an additional 30,000 seats being offered by the main tour operators."