MPs raise concerns about loss of charter flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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MPs raise concerns about loss of charter flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport
THE region’s MPs have given a mixed reaction to the sudden loss of charter flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport, following a shock announcement that all summer holiday destinations had been axed.
The decision by Peel Holdings, the majority shareholders of the embattled airport to cancel charter flights planned by holiday companies Thomson and First Choice for 2014 also provoked a response from former passengers, who described the decision as "the final straw".
Thomson revealed yesterday (Monday, October 28) that the company had been notified by Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) that they would no longer be able to operate their flights from the airport.
Summer flights to Mallorca and Ibiza from DTVA have been cancelled for summer 2014. People who have booked flights from DTVA will be offered alternative departure points.
Peel Holdings have declined to comment on the reasons behind the decision ahead of an expected statement later this week.
Stockton South MP James Wharton, a Conservative, said he was "very concerned" about the announcement and said: “An airport without passenger flights is not an airport.”
He added: “While it is positive that they [Peel Holdings] are making plans for the future and are looking to keep the airport viable, if that excludes passenger services then that is not a positive development at all.”
Jenny Chapman, Labour MP for Darlington, said: “This is bad news but it is not the end for DTVA as a passenger airport. Scaling down the airport for the time being may protect its longer term future.”
Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield, said: "The airport is going through a period of restructuring. They are going to produce a masterplan in the coming days. We have to wait until we see that, but I do know that for two flights a week it was costing the airport a fortune in fire coverage and security etc.
"I think they have had to take a rational view on this.
"I don't think that because of this decision that it means the end of charter flights at the airport in the future."
Harry Ellis, 87, previously used the Alicante flights from DTVA each winter and said they were always filled with passengers.
He said: “You would be amazed at the number of people who used to book those flights. We’ve tried to support DTVA for as long as possible but this is the final straw. We are very disappointed.”
Thomson has apologised to customers who had booked flights from DTVA for the inconvenience at the change, but said the decision was out of their control.
A spokeswoman for the company added: “We would like to reassure all customers booked to travel from DTVA in summer 2014 that their holiday booking is secure and we will be in touch with them shortly to agree an alternative that is acceptable to their party.”
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