HUNDREDS of people - including those who are frail, ill and disabled - flew to Lourdes on Friday (May 23) as part of a pilgrimage.

Two flights left Durham Tees Valley Airport on Friday morning, bound for the shrine in the south of France.

Pilgrims from the Middlesbrough Roman Catholic Diocese, make the journey every year.

Lourdes was made famous by the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1858 and is visited by millions of people every year.

Pilgrimage executive director Keith Tillotson said: "This is my first time as executive director, although I have been involved with the Pilgrimage for many years.

"We have been using Durham Tees Valley for well over 20 years, the airport puts in an enormous amount of effort to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible."

Airport manager Shaun Woods added: “Handling a large number of passengers with a range of different needs is, of course, very challenging but we are always delighted to welcome the pilgrims.

"Our aim is to make their trip as comfortable as possible and, as well as airport staff, we will have support from members of the Friends of Durham Tees Valley Airport group."