Sir, – I was amazed to read in your paper that Durham Tees Valley Airport is resorting to charging passengers to use it – presumably this is in addition to the charges it levies for car parking and the fees it charges airlines.

There is a phrase to do with booze-ups and breweries that springs to mind.

Compared with its nearest rivals, Newcastle and Leeds- Bradford Airports, DTV Airport just does not have enough flights in or out to make it viable.

Today, Friday, October 22, DTV has just nine departures to six destinations, whereas the other two have 60 and 63 departures respectively to airports in Britain, Europe and beyond.

It is hard to understand why this is, when DTV has the longest runway in the region, capable of taking Concorde; a better weather record than Leeds-Bradford; it has a rail link, which neither of the other two have, that puts it within about 15 minutes travel of a main line railway station only two-and-ahalf hours from London; and it is within a few miles of two major north-south dual carriageways, the A19 and the A1, which in turn links within half an hour to one of the country’s major east-west motorways.

If you look at catchment areas within, say, a 60 mile radius of each airport you will find that while Newcastle will take in Teesside to the south there is little or nothing to the west and north. DTV, on the other hand, will take in Newcastle and the whole of Tyneside to the north, Teesside itself, York and beyond to the south and Leeds and Bradford to the south west.

In other words, DTV Airport has many more advantages than either of its two nearest rivals, yet only 15 per cent of the traffic. Why is that?

The clue is in the management’s latest idea of charging people a fees for using the airport.

If I had a failing shop – failing because I was not offering either the quantity or the range of goods that people want – the last thing I would do would be to charge people to come in, yet that is precisely what is happening.

If Morrison’s is losing out to Tesco, Morrison’s won’t just carry on doing what it was doing but start charging people to go into the supermarket, it would reduce prices and increase the range and quality of the goods on offer – in other words, compete. Somehow that doesn’t seem to have occurred to the management of DTV.

Hitting the few customers the airport has got without offering anything else in return strikes me as the fastest way to ruin and closure, and I can’t help but wonder if that is the plan.

GERRY STAPLETON Potto, Northallerton.