August 27, 2020 @ 10:53 by Steven Hugill
A global aviation firm has stepped up operations at its new North East maintenance base.
Willis Asset Management Limited has welcomed the first aircraft to its Teesside International Airport site.
Willis moved into the airport earlier this year, taking hangar space from where it will maintain, store and disassemble a wide variety of commercial aircraft.
Its first plane – a Boeing 737 – has now flown in from Oslo and will remain at Willis’ base for storage over the coming months.
Bosses, who previously revealed the venture will create and support an initial 20 jobs, expect further aircraft to arrive in the coming weeks.
Welcoming the first plane, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who took the airport back into public ownership following his 2017 election success, said: “I’m delighted to see the first aircraft fly into the new base.
“Our airport is hugely important to our economy and it is key to my plan for jobs.
The Boeing 737 lands at Teesside International Airport
“We are just at the beginning of Willis developing its base, which will develop into a fantastic asset for our airport, creating more good quality jobs for local workers.
“I can’t wait to see even more aircraft flying into Willis’ base in the coming weeks and months.”
The aircraft’s arrival builds on Mayor Houchen’s ongoing plans to extend Teesside International’s flight itinerary.
Earlier this month, he revealed Heathrow flights were returning to the base after a break of more than a decade.
The blue-ribbon flights – operated by Eastern Airways – will begin on September 14 and revive a direct link that ended in 2009 when BMI axed its Heathrow service.
Furthermore, Mayor Houchen has confirmed two of Teesside International’s most popular routes, to Aberdeen and Belfast, are expanding to twice-daily services.
From Monday, September 7, the Aberdeen flights will depart twice a day on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with an additional connection running on Sundays.
Belfast will take to the skies with a twice-daily service on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, alongside new weekend routes for leisure passengers.