Milestone Reached as Global Aviation Firm Lodges Plans for £25Million Facility

Business & Invest | Published on: 8th November 2022

A significant milestone in bringing a cutting-edge aircraft maintenance facility to Teesside International Airport has been reached.

Global aviation giant Willis Lease Finance Corporation (WLFC) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Willis Aviation Services Limited (WASL), have now lodged planning documents for a maintenance facility and a state-of-the-art Jet Centre at Aviation Village.

The investment worth £25m is set to bring a significant number of jobs to the region. Part of the 49-acre stretch west of the main terminal building was originally earmarked for 350 homes.

It was bought for £5m as part of the deal to bring the airport back into public ownership in 2019.

The Aviation Village on the stretch is set to include five hangars for aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) and painting operations, as well as a Fixed Base Operation building for Business Aviation – the Jet Centre. Access to the complex would be from St George Way, and the project is expected to create as many as 200 jobs.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Routes and summer holiday flights are important to the success of our airport – but for any airport to really thrive, it must be about more than just holiday flights.

“Willis has been based at Teesside since 2020 – and have been hugely supportive as we drive forward our airport. It’s huge private sector investments like theirs which will secure our airport for the future.

“It’s also no coincidence that Freeport status at our airport has also helped drive forward progress on this new investment.

“Because of our efforts to save Teesside Airport, we will have high-quality, well-paid jobs for local people from a facility which will 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 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.

Cllr Jonathan Dulston, Leader of Darlington Borough Council and Cabinet Member of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “This is a fantastic investment for Darlington which will bring many good quality jobs for years to come. It’s great to see our airport going from strength to strength.”

A decision on the planning application is expected within the next 12 weeks.

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