Teesside Airport is still losing money but is edging towards profitability for the first time in years, encouraging new financial reports show. 

The airport, which returned to public ownership on this day five years ago, made a loss of £2.26m in 2022/23, significantly improving on the £9m loss recorded 12 months previously.

The figure is also half the expected loss that was forecast as part of the 10-year turnaround plan, introduced by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and backed by the then five Labour leaders as part of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) cabinet.

Lord Houchen said the new figures show the airport is 'on course to meet its turnaround plan', whilst Phil Foster, the airport's managing director, said Teesside was becoming 'an airport to be proud of once again'.

The Tees Valley Mayor also said that it was a 'question of when not if' a Malaga flight would be secured for the airport, which has become hugely politically divisive since the Conservative Mayor made an election pledge to save it from closure in 2017.

He described his end goal at the airport was to see it become self-sustainable.

Over the last year, the airport has doubled its revenue to make more than £15m.

He said: "Once the airport starts standing on its own two feet that’s when you know you’ve got a really important infrastructure asset that is going to be there for the long term.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Teesside International Airport

"It was never just about the flights. The flights were the retail part of the project.

"We always said before we bought it that flights are great but it’s a piece of economic infrastructure. Investors often say that one of the reasons they are looking at Teesside is because it is easy to access.

"At the time it was bought there were 800 jobs relying on it, there’s a lot more now. There was a letter signed by about 100 businesses saying look flights are great but for our business, for us to be able to grow, we need connectivity.

"Because of the amount of private sector leverage that airports bring in they are such a magnet for investment.

"Investing in the airport is probably the single best thing that the combined authority could invest in."

In the months since the end of March 2023, the airport has celebrated its best year for passengers in 11 years.

From January to September 2023 Teesside Airport welcomed 178,523 passengers.

That wasn't the only good news though, the airport’s cargo handling facility opened for operation in August 2022, aviation services firm Draken doubled its fleet thanks to a new hangar, Willis Lease Finance Corporation’s £25million cutting-edge aircraft maintenance facility was officially approved and is set to bring up to 300 jobs.

Phil Forster, Teesside Airport's Managing Director, said: "These figures are encouraging, being a 78% drop in losses on the previous year, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

"2022 was about putting in place the building blocks of future sustainability, and now we can start reaping the rewards. Our Business Park South is ready to welcome new tenants, boosting our revenue, Willis’ expansion can begin in earnest – creating up to 300 jobs – and we’re in very exciting talks to welcome other new tenants to our site.

"We’re also looking at new opportunities, partnering with SSE Energy Solutions on a huge solar farm to make us and our tenants self-sufficient for green energy.

"It hasn’t been easy saving a failing airport from a standing start – and in the face of a global pandemic – and slowly but surely we’re creating an airport to be proud of once again."