Teesside International Airport railway station overhaul will open doors of opportunity

Teesside International Airport’s Managing Director Phil Forster tells International Airport Review how the airport’s growth vision is progressing – with a new and improved railway station being the latest project to be unveiled.

Early stages of development

Teesside International Airport has seen a rollercoaster five years. Taken back into public ownership in 2019, the airport is now part of the Teesside Freeport, home to a freight facility and looking to expand its own business park on its Southern Side. On top of that, ambitious passenger targets remain firmly it its sights.

A cash injection of £20 million will breathe new life into an airport railway station. Teesside International Airport will see its namesake station given an overhaul after the Tees Valley Mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority backed the eight-figure funding earlier this year.

While there will be a wait for capacity on the railway line to be opened up from work elsewhere on the Tees Valley Line at Darlington and Middlesbrough, the revamp will see new a new bridge and improved platforms created.

Opening doors of opportunity

But Managing Director Phil Forster explained how it will open the door to so much more at the burgeoning regional airport.

He said: “It’s another link to the airport and, crucially, the wider estate. We’ve got great access to the A1(M) as a north-south route and the rail link gives us that opportunity to tie into the East Coast Main Line.

“Work at the station would unlock rail access to the Freeport, new hangars and new employers setting up and expanding across the airport site and on our new business park.

“It’s about getting local people and workers they need to ensure they can get the jobs these opportunities will bring. So, while it will be another great way to get here for passengers to travel to and from our airport, it really gives us another string to our bow.”

Brought back into public hands in 2019, Teesside International Airport has seen investment in its land and assets to create a £200 million business park on 2.8 million sq. ft of land south of the runway.

This has opened up Grade A industrial development opportunities for sectors including aviation, logistics, manufacturing, life sciences, laboratory, green energy and data storage.

These all benefit from airside access if required – and the advantages of being based within the Teesside Freeport, where customs benefits can be reaped.

Encouraging competition in the local economy

Companies already taking advantage of the airport site include FedEx, Willis and Draken. The airport also recently welcomed global aircraft painting firm Airbourne Colours, with Teesside International developing a 27,000 sq. ft hangar to help it deliver work for airlines such as EasyJet, Jet2, Loganair, TUI and others.

“We now have a full range of freight handling services as an approved regulated agent, and we’re going to have a lot of exciting announcements in the coming months,” added Phil.

Teesside Airports new railway station

The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the Leaders of the Tees Valley Combined Authority signed off a £20 million package to overhaul the airport’s railway station in January after receiving a £1 billion boost for transport in the region. The station had been in poor condition and deteriorated for several years – leading to the downgrading of its services.

In the meantime, the bridge over the station has been demolished to keep the site safe, as work on the Airbourne Colours hangar a stone’s throw from the station gathers pace.

The aim is to redevelop the station on its existing site – with step free access to each platform, and consideration for how passengers get to the airport terminal and key job sites from the overhauled station. An autonomous shuttle service has been put forward to do this in the future using cutting edge technology.

About Teesside International Airport

When it comes to passenger flights, Teesside offers trips to Alicante, Bulgaria, Corfu, Faro, Majorca as well as – new for this year – the popular destination of Dalaman, Turkey with TUI. KLM is also retaining its three-times daily service between Amsterdam and the airport.

Teesside was also named UK and Irish Airport of the Year at the TTG Travel Industry Awards in 2023 after winning recognition for its growth in flights and delivering a great passenger experience. And last year the airport become the first in the UK to scrap the 100ml liquid restrictions at security thanks to scanner upgrades.

The airport’s boss revealed hard work behind the scenes to secure more routes was continuing. “We’re constantly in a productive dialogue with airlines and operators to talk up Teesside Airport,” said Phil.

“When it comes to cargo, we’re slap bang in the middle of Britain and offer a great gateway to the North of England.

“And when it comes to attracting passengers, we’re drawing people in from Yorkshire, Tyneside and even the North West as people see what we have to offer. They’ll continue to be our targets and 2024 promises to be a great year.”

About the Author – Phil Forster

Phil Forster joined Teesside International Airport as Commercial Director in 2019 before taking on the role of Managing Director in 2020. He is responsible for overseeing Teesside International and its current transformation to ensure the airport is ready for the increase in passenger numbers resulting from securing new domestic and holiday services. He is also driving forward the redevelopment of the airport masterplan utilising its land and assets, including its new cargo handling facility, the creation of a £200 million business park and plans for the airport to be Net Zero by 2035.

In the past he has worked for Leeds Bradford Airport, firstly in the role of Aviation Development & Corporate Affairs Manager, before progressing to become the airport’s Head of External Affairs.

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