Friday, 4 May 2012

Durham Tees Valley Airport (NZ373130)

The holiday launchpad we now know as Durham Tees Valley Airport began life as ‘RAF Station Goosepool’ in 1938. As hostilities commenced and escalated in the following years, the airfield was upgraded and renamed RAF Middleton St.George in January 1941. It was the most northerly bomber station in the British Isles.

Raids on the Tirpitz, as well as attacks on the likes of Hamburg, Berlin and Dresden (and many more besides), were launched from the site during WWII  –  resulting in the loss of more than 1,000 airmen who were based there. After the war, the bombers left and the fighter planes took possession of RAF Middleton. However, in 1964, budget cuts led to its abandonment.

Cleveland County Council then stepped in, keen to make a commercial go of a civil airport. It was then (in 1966) that it became known as ‘Teesside International Airport’, and over the next four decades it slowly but steadily grew in size and importance.

A change of ownership in the early 21st century saw a name change to ‘Durham Tees Valley Airport’  (in 2004)  –  and, it has to be said, a dramatic dip in its fortunes followed. Redevelopment plans failed to reach fruition as passenger numbers began to fall – in fact, from a peak of 900,000 passengers passing through the airport in 2006, the annual footfall now stands at less than a quarter of this figure.

It is difficult to see how the venue can survive as a commercial concern.

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