Mayor predicts a 27-fold increase in passenger numbers by 2022, and turning a profit in three years
Teesside airport lost £920 for every passenger it handled in the most recent financial year .
But officials say the airport’s turnaround is running ahead of schedule and that it will turn a profit within three years.
The latest accounts for Teesside airport, to 31 March 2021, show a loss of £13.8m. According to the latest CAA figures, only 15,000 passengers passed through during a year when damage from the coronavirus pandemic was at its deepest.
The number of passengers using UK airports in 2020-21 fell by three quarters. In the first six months of 2021, Gatwick airport lost £430 for each passenger handled.
Teesside’s loss of £920 per passenger over the year compares with a figure of £138 lost per passenger in 2019-20, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
With 26,000 passengers passing through during the 12 months, the airport lost £3.6m.
The airport is located about 10 miles southwest of Middlesbrough. It was bought for £40m by the Tees Valley Combined Authority in 2019 – following an election pledge from the mayor, Ben Houchen.
The authority says the airport is “on track to meet and surpass its pre-pandemic targets with revenues hitting £30.5m by 2025”. The latest figures represent a loss of £20 for every person living in the region.
It says: “The £10m investment from the mayor and Combined Authority over the next two years means that no further funding is needed to secure its future.”
The prospects have been boosted “thanks to securing a low-cost carrier in Ryanair earlier than expected, as well as growing a slate of 15 domestic and international flights since its acquisition, with the original plan only accounting for 10 in this period”.
Ryanair, Europe’s biggest budget airline, is flying summer-only routes to and from Alicante, Corfu and Faro. Loganair has a range of UK domestic routes, and KLM connects Teesside with its hub in Amsterdam.
Mr Houchen said: “If the airport hadn’t been brought back into public control, it would have been a housing estate by now. Instead, we’re turning it around, supporting the local economy and jobs, and becoming an airport that people can be truly proud of.
“Despite the huge difficulties the travel industry has faced with the pandemic, Teesside Airport is coming out of the past 18 months stronger than ever, with a raft of new routes under its belt and firm commitments from its airline partners.
“We’re confident of welcoming more than 400,000 passengers through our new terminal next year thanks to all of the new flights we’ve secured, and our investment in the terminal, creating an airport people will want to use time and time again.”
Were Teeside to succeed in increasing passenger numbers 27-fold, as the mayor predicts, it would be almost at the scale of Norwich and Newquay.
But unlike those airports, Teesside has a large and usually successful rival, Newcastle, just 28 miles north. Leeds Bradford, home to Jet2, is 45 miles south.
Previous attempts to lure airlines to Teesside – or Durham Tees Valley, as it was known from 2004 to 2019 – have foundered.
British Midland abandoned its longstanding link to and from London Heathrow in 2009, but this route has been revived by Loganair.
The airport has its own station on the line between Darlington and Middlesbrough. But it is the world’s worst rail-air link: trains call only once a week, in a westbound direction, at 2.56pm.