Teesside International Airport is located on the border of Stockton-on-Tees and Darlington. The airport was previously part of ‘Bomber Command’ in World War Two, with Lancaster Bombers and other heavy aircraft flying from what was then called St George Airfield.
Indeed, on the night of 13th June 1944, a Canadian ‘gunner’, Andrew Mynarski was killed when his Lancaster Bomber was shot down during an air raid over France. His heroism was such, that he received a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery during that fatal mission. In 2006, a statue was unveiled of Andrew Mynarski at the airport as memorial to him and also to all of his fellow Canadian crewman.
The history is important due to the deep sense of affection the people of County Durham and the Tees Valley have for the airport site – it might well be an airport, but it is also a site of remembrance for the fallen airmen who served this country and the commonwealth during World War Two.
In the early 1960s ownership of the airfield was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the numerous local councils within the locality. To an extent, the transfer of ownership coincided with the rise of the tourism industry, which resulted in rapid growth in terms of flight destinations to many popular Mediterranean locations. The airport reached its height in terms of destinations and Air Traffic Movements (ATMs) during the mid-1980s – since then, a steady decline in ATMs occurred. On a number of occasions in the 1990s, the Airport was on the brink of collapse, but always survived with the help of the five Tees Valley Councils and Durham County Council, all of whom had shares in the airport.
In 2003, the airport was sold to the private sector in the hope of growth in terms of ATMs and passenger numbers, but this failed to materialise. By 2015, the Airport was close to a ‘vacant’ site and a major overhaul was required.
During the election campaign for a Tees Valley Elected Mayor, the Conservative Candidate, Ben Houchen pledged to buy back the Airport into public ownership. Some would suggest he was elected on that promise. He was duly elected and he and the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) bought back the Airport in 2019.
Part of the business case for the purchase of the airport was to develop the acreage surrounding the airport, hence the involvement of Chris and Martin.
On completion of a detailed competition process, the TVCA selected JC Musgrave Capital and Theakston Land as their JV partners to create a Business and Logistics Park, which will expand and support cargo handling for UK and global distribution.
The JV partnership, which is being led by Chris and Martin is making good progress with the construction of a new £12m road bypass due to begin in the second quarter of 2022, which will connect the site directly to the A67.
In addition, the first 140,000 sq. ft of warehouse/logistics space is due to begin in the summer of 2022, with eight units complete by the summer of 2023.
The project as a whole, will enhance the economic prospects of Teesside International Airport and will help to sustain this vital local asset for many years to come.