Teesside International Airport revealed today (18 July) that global aviation company, Willis Lease Finance Corporation (NASDAQ: WLFC) (“Willis Lease”) along with its wholly owned subsidiary, Willis Aviation Services Limited (“WASL”), has commenced the planning process for a new aircraft maintenance facility, as well as a state-of-the-art Jet Centre at Aviation Village at Teesside International Airport that could be an investment of up to £25million, potentially creating a significant number of jobs for local workers.
WLFC has taken over the operations of the airport’s existing Jet Centre, now known as Jet Centre by Willis, and is planning to build maintenance hangars on 13 acres of land previously earmarked for 350 homes, before the airport was brought back into public control. The land also forms part of the Teesside Freeport, the UK’s largest and first operational Freeport.
As part of the 2019 airport deal, this portion of land was bought for £5million, leading to a 5:1 return on the investment for the project – which could also create 200 well-paid jobs.
The airport’s Jet Centre by Willis provides a full range of ground handling services for business, private aviation, military, and cargo flights, with plans for further improvements as WLFC expands its operations at the site.
WASL currently leases Hangar 2 at the airport as its base for aircraft maintenance, storage, and disassembly.
In December 2021, Mayor Houchen flew to the US to negotiate the investment face-to-face with WLFC, meeting with Charles F. Willis, Executive Chairman, Austin C. Willis, Chief Executive Officer, Garry A. Failler, SVP, Materials & Services and Chief Technical Officer and other members of their executive team. A planning application is now due to be submitted in the coming weeks.
Today, Mayor Houchen said: “Our routes and summer holiday flights are obviously hugely important to the success of our airport, but for any airport to really thrive it has to be about more than just holiday flights. It’s multimillion-pound private sector investments that will truly secure our airport’s future – and this is potentially the largest we’ve seen in years. It is thanks in part to our Freeport status that WLFC has begun the planning process to the scheme proving how the Teesside Freeport is working not just for Teesworks, but for the whole of the region.
“When I saved our airport from closure, I said that no homes would be built on the airport site. Thanks to this the land that would have seen hundreds of houses spring up instead of being developed for its originally intended use, bringing a significant number of good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people while supporting the airport’s wider growth ambitions.
“WLFC has been based at Teesside since 2020 and since then have been hugely supportive as we drive forward the airport’s transformation.”