The Mayor of Tees Valley has launched a campaign to garner support for his proposed £40m purchase of Durham Tees Valley Airport.
A deal to buy the airport struck by Conservative mayor Ben Houchen will be put to a vote of the combined authority's cabinet later this month, but the five Labour council leaders have all expressed doubts over the level of risk in the investment.
Mayor Houchen said: ‘I need the five leaders of our local councils to vote in favour of this plan.
‘Our council leaders have always wanted to see this airport thrive and now I’m calling on them to back our plan to make this airport the success we know it can be.’
The £40m deal involves the purchase of Peel Group’s 89% shareholding in the airport and 819 acres of land, including a site with planning permission from Darlington Council for 350 homes, which would not be developed.
Peel Group has owned and operated Durham Tees Valley Airport since 2003, but has admitted its future beyond 2021 was uncertain should the deal not take place.
Mayor Houchen believes the airport’s closure would cost the local economy £57m and more than 1,000 jobs.
He added: ‘If it’s good enough for the people of Manchester, Newcastle and Cardiff to take a public stake in their airport so should we.
‘With a new plan, new leadership and a new vision the airport will pay for itself.
‘Failure to secure the future of this airport will deprive the region of a significant economic asset.’
The combined authority's cabinet have raised questions over the airport’s viability as it currently operates at a loss, the need for infrastructure improvements and questioned whether the money could be spent elsewhere.
However, they are awaiting the publication of a business plan before making a final decision.
The vote will take place at an emergency cabinet meeting later this month.
This story first appeared on our sister site The MJ.