A cutting-edge aircraft maintenance facility has been approved at Teesside International Airport with the promise of hundreds of jobs.
Darlington Borough Council Planning Committee backed the plans for a state-of-the-art Jet Centre and Aviation Village led by Willis Lease Finance Corporation (WLFC) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Willis Aviation Services Limited (WASL), at a meeting on Wednesday (1 March).
The £25million investment by Willis has the potential to bring 250 to 300 jobs to the region, with the Aviation Village set to include plans for five hangars for aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) and painting operations, as well as a Fixed Base Operation (FBO) building for Business Aviation – the Jet Centre.
Councillors voted in favour of approving the vision subject to planning conditions at Darlington Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Part of the 49-acre stretch west of the main terminal building was originally earmarked for 350 homes. This area was bought as part of a deal to bring the airport back into public ownership in 2019.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This decision marks another big step forward for our airport – and I’m delighted these vital plans have been backed.
“I have always said that for our airport to truly flourish, it must be about more than just holiday flights – and we are delivering just that.
“Willis is making a huge commitment to Teesside and today marks another great leap in securing our airport’s future.
“When we launched the UK’s first and largest Freeport, we did so on the promise it would create well paid jobs for local people and that is exactly what this investment will do.
“Because of all our efforts to save Teesside Airport, we will have high-quality, well-paid engineering and aviation jobs close to home for local people.
“I will never lose sight of the importance of securing new holiday flights and routes. But this new facility shows just how serious we are about making our airport a success firing on all cylinders. This new aviation village, our £200million Southside Business Park, our freight hub and our Freeport will truly serve our growth ambitions for decades to come.”
The airport’s Jet Centre by Willis provides a full range of ground handling services for business, private aviation, military, and cargo flights – with WASL currently leasing Hangar 2 at the airport as its base for aircraft maintenance, storage, and disassembly.
Cllr Jonathan Dulston, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “I’m thrilled with the decision and what it will mean for our borough and our airport.
“This is a fantastic investment for Darlington which is sure to bring many good quality jobs and exciting careers for many years to come.”