MILITARY aircraft have been seen landing at Teesside Airport throughout the month - and the reason behind it has been revealed.

Throughout November, hundreds of service personnel have been flying on a series of specially-chartered military flights to Cyprus.

More than 510 servicemen and women, based at Catterick in North Yorkshire, have flown out on four flights with the last one taking off on Sunday. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: DAVE CHARNLEYPicture: DAVE CHARNLEY

They along with their families have been flying out to be stationed at the Episkopi base on the Mediterranean island for two years.

This Sunday, the last flight of the programme took off operated by an Airbus KC2 Voyager based at RAF Brize Norton.

Major Matt Nuttall for the Army said: “It’s fantastic for the troops and their families to be able to fly to Cyprus from Teesside Airport as it is so close to their current home in Catterick - it means that they don’t have to make the long drive to RAF Brize Norton to catch their flights. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: DAVE CHARNLEYPicture: DAVE CHARNLEY

"Really good liaison between the Ministry of Defence and the airport have made this happen and the troops and families certainly appreciate how this has cut down the travel time to Cyprus."

Although the RAF left Teesside Airport in 1964, the airport has become frequently used by Cobham Aviation Services, who provide airborne training for the Ministry of Defence, NATO and the US Air Force.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Picture: DAVE CHARNLEYPicture: DAVE CHARNLEY

The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said he was delighted that the airport had been chosen in the military operation as he paid tribute to their efforts.

He said: “Our Armed Forces do a hugely important job, everyday putting their lives on the line to keep us safe. Having the opportunity to hear the stories of service personnel and their families leaving our region for a two-year deployment was incredibly moving.

“I’ve always said our airport is more than just about holiday flights, and these are arguably some of the most important flights we could ever put on – flying our servicemen and women overseas to protect our nation.

“I’m delighted the Army has been able to use Teesside Airport to put on these flights, and I want to pay tribute to everyone in our Armed Forces who are doing their bit, even more so this close to Christmas, to keep us all safe back at home.”