Stobart Group revealed as new operator of Durham Tees Valley Airport

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen with Kate Willard, Stobart Group director, at Durham Tees Valley Airport.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen with Kate Willard, Stobart Group director, at Durham Tees Valley Airport.

The new operator of Durham Tees Valley Airport is revealed to be the Stobart Group.

It now intends to increase passenger numbers to 1.4 million a year and create 7,600 jobs.

In January this year, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen’s plan to acquire the airport was approved at a Tees Valley Combined Authority cabinet meeting.

The deal has seen Peel Group’s 89% shareholding in the airport and 819 acres of surrounding land transferred to the Mayor and combined authority.

Hartlepool Borough Council was among the stakeholders which backed the deal.

Thursday's announcement means that Stobart Group, formed following the success of the Eddie Stobart haulage firm, will:

*Be responsible for the oversight and strategic development of the airport;

*Implement a 10 year rescue plan to increase passenger numbers to 1.4million;

*Aim to secure a low cost carrier by 2022;

*Strive to create 7,600 jobs.

Stobart has a proven track record having successfully run London Southend Airport since 2008, increasing passenger numbers from 5,000 in 2009 to 1.5million in 2018, and Carlisle Lake District Airport, which will re-open its doors in summer 2019 for the first time in 25 years.

From July, Scotland’s airline Loganair will offer direct flights from Carlisle to Dublin, Belfast and London Southend.

At a joint press conference hosted at Durham Tees Valley Airport, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: "We have been in discussions with Stobart for quite some time and have worked together on our 10 Year Rescue Plan that will help us see the airport become the success we know it can be.

"Stobart is a huge company with significant experience, knowledge and expertise in the aviation sector. They’re no stranger to turning around airports – just look at what they have achieved at London Southend and Carlisle Lake District Airport.

"Stobart will hold a minority share in our airport with a clear and overwhelming incentive to turn it around.

"They have the experience, credibility and relationships with airlines to make Teesside fly again and they’re the right partner for Teesside.

“This airport has been run into the ground and was just months away from closure, but we will bring it back from the brink and turn it around. This isn’t a quick fix and it will take time - but we’re ready for the challenge ahead."

Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation, said: “We understand and recognise the important role that Durham Tees Valley Airport plays in the economic development of the area and are proud to be part of the ambitious scheme put forward by the Tees Valley Mayor.

“Stobart Aviation has built up 10 years’ valuable experience and expertise from successfully operating London Southend Airport, taking it from under 5,000 passengers in 2009 to 1.5million in 2018.

"We look forward to bringing that experience and expertise to Durham Tees Valley Airport.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse partnership of businesses and organisations, said: "Stobart Group has an excellent track record in the aviation industry, particularly its work at Carlisle Lake District Airport, so this can be considered a great coup for Teesside.

"This is an opportunity to deliver the top-class transport infrastructure Teesside deserves and will unlock 7,600 new jobs and the economic growth and inward investment that comes from better aviation links.

"Teesside has enormous economic potential in the Northern Powerhouse, so I am delighted that Mayor Ben Houchen, alongside other civic, political and business leaders are acting to put the Tees Valley Airport on an even footing and the wider Teesside area on the map."

Mayor Houchen today also confirmed that the planning application for 350 homes outside the airport terminal had been “withdrawn” and said that “there will be no residential development on this airport site” for as long as he is Mayor.