The airfield began its life in 1941 as Royal Air Force Station Middleton St. George or RAF Goosepool as known to the locals (though it has never officially held that name). It was home to many Canadian squadrons during the war. Post war it was home to the English Electric Lightning conversion unit and Javelin Squadrons. The RAF station was closed in 1963 and the airfield was put up for sale.
The former RAF Station and airfield was purchased by the former Cleveland County Council, which saw the potential of the airfield as a commercial one, and developed it into a civil airport. The first flight from the airport took place in 1964 with a Mercury Airlines service to Manchester. Princess Margaretha of Sweden opened the international passenger terminal in 1966.
After flights to Manchester the airport continued to develop a small yet strong network of both scheduled and inclusive tour charter routes. In November 1969 the first flight to London Heathrow was operated by British Midland—this route continued operating until 28 March 2009.
In 1974, the shares were divided between the newly formed Cleveland and Durham County Councils.
1990 saw the one millionth aircraft movement at the airport, in the form of a British Midland service to London Heathrow. In 1996 when Cleveland County Council was abolished, the airport ownership was divided amongst local Borough Councils. Working to a new Business Plan, passenger numbers grew steadily from 1993, up to the sale of the airport in 2002, based upon an expanding holiday charter business.
In 2002 the airport sought a strategic partner to assist with future development and Peel Airports Ltd was selected as the preferred company, taking a 75% stake in the airport with a commitment to invest £20m over the subsequent five years.
On 21 September 2004 the airport was renamed Durham Tees Valley Airport as part of a major redevelopment plan. The name was changed in order to place the airport better geographically, as many of the airport's passengers, particularly those from outside the UK, were unfamiliar with the location of Teesside, whilst Durham is better known.
Shortly afterwards, a new access road, terminal front and terminal interior were completed, but the remainder of a planned £56 million expansion and development programme which would have enabled the airport to handle up to 3 million passengers annually never materialised due to falling passenger numbers after 2006. Other minor developments have seen new airfield lighting installed and during 2012, six-figure sums spent revamping the terminal building and renovating one of the World War II-era hangars.
As indicated above, passenger numbers peaked in 2006 when the airport was used by 917,963 passengers, but numbers declined to 161,092 in 2013, the lowest level seen at the airport since 1972.
In 2010, Vancouver Airport Services purchased a controlling 65% stake in Peel Airports Ltd and in December 2011, Peel Airports placed the airport up for sale.
In November 2010 the airport introduced a passenger levy of £6 to curb the airport's losses. Passengers must purchase a ticket from a machine before being allowed to proceed through security. Similar schemes are already in place at other small English airports including Blackpool, Newquay and Norwich. Passenger numbers during 2011 were 15% lower compared to 2010.
On 11 January 2011, Ryanair left the airport after ending service to Alicante Airport, the airline had previously served Dublin Airport, Girona Airport and Rome Ciampino Airport, they decided to leave the airport prior the introduction of the Passenger Facility Fee. On 14 December 2011, Peel Airports Ltd put their 75% stake in the airport up for sale.
On 10 February 2012, The Peel group purchased their 75% share back under a new subsidiary, Peel Investments (DTVA) Ltd.
On 30 October 2013, the airport announced it would no longer focus on charter flights as part of cost-cutting plans that will see the airport diversify into a business airport. The airport stated it would instead focus on scheduled routes and non-passenger related aviation such as cargo/general aviation. The news is part of a Master Plan for the airport site, including residential and commercial development, released in November 2013.
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights at Durham Tees Valley Airport:
Durham Tees Valley is a base for Cobham plc which has a fleet of six Dassault Falcon 20s based at the airport. Cobham's Durham Tees Valley aircraft fly electronic countermeasure flights for the Royal Air Force and other NATO air forces. These aircraft can be found on exercise, usually around the UK or Europe.
Great North Air Ambulance
The Great North Air Ambulance has a single Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin II based at the airport.
National Police Air Service
NPAS Tees Valley has a Eurocopter EC135 based at the airport, however in early 2015 they earmarked the base for possible closure during 2016 as part of cost-cutting measures. This has now been postponed until spring 2017.
Sycamore Aviation is a company that specialises in aircraft salvage and recycling, also offering maintenance, repair and overhaul ("MRO"), and aircraft parking and storage. The company has operated at the airport since late 2011, initially in hangar 4, but has since moved into hangar 1.
Flying Fox Aviation offer single and twin engine light aircraft for charter, primarily from Bagby Airfield near Thirsk, but also operate from Durham Tees Valley. Eden Flight Training lease some of their fleet from Flying Fox.
There are two fixed-wing light aircraft flying schools and a fixed-wing microlight flying school based at the airport.
PTT Aviation (PTT = "Pilot Training & Testing") is the largest flying school in the North East, and was recently formed by the purchase of the flight training arm of Multiflight at Leeds/Bradford Airport followed by Durham Tees Flight Training and Northumbria Flying School in September 2016. Durham Tees Flight Training had themselves recently purchased St. George Flight Training who were also based at Durham Tees Valley Airport. The owner of PTT Aviation is jet charter firm NAL Asset Management, aka Naljets, which was formed from the ashes of Northern Aviation who owned Cleveland Flying School, both based at Durham Tees Valley, making the whole takeover a homecoming of sorts.
Durham Aerosports operate two fixed wing Ikarus C42 microlights from the airport and have recently become the UK dealership for Skyleader Aircraft.
Eden Flight Training
Eden Flight Training started operations in August 2015. They offer training and experience flights with PA-28 and PA-38 aircraft, with a Grob Tutor due to arrive in October 2016.
IAS Medical have two Beech 200 King Air aircraft based at the airport specialising in ambulance flights.
A number of private single and twin piston fixed wing and rotary aircraft are based at the airport in Hangars 1 and 3.
Serco has its International Fire Training Centre based in a remote corner of the airport. It has a number of retired aircraft fuselages as well as metal mock-ups used for training aviation fire-fighters from across the world.
Thales recently purchased the flight inspection arm of Cobham Aviation Services, taking on two of their four aircraft, a Diamond DA42 Twin Star and Beech 200 King Air.
The airport saw strong growth from 1993 to 2006, when passenger numbers peaked at 917,963. Passenger numbers declined steeply in the subsequent four years due to the financial crisis of 2007–2010, and continued to fall albeit more slowly with a total of 140,902 passengers passing through the airport in 2015 (the lowest total since 1972). Cargo volumes have also slowly declined since 2000, to effectively zero tonnage. The airport is currently focussing on its "core" business flights which have shown slight increases in passenger numbers (% change from 2013 to 2014).
Arriva North East presently operates services 12 and 20. Bus 12 runs from Hurworth/Neasham and Darlington to the airport. The 12 runs every hour at 00:47 from the airport terminal, providing links to Darlington only; The extension of service 12 between Durham Tees Valley Airport and Teesside was withdrawn as a result of cancellation of Stockton Council financial support.
The airport is situated off the A67 and is within easy reach of the A1(M), A19, A66 corridors, it is well signposted from all major routes (sometimes as Teesside Airport). A significant upgrade to complete a fast link direct to the airport from the A66 was completed in 2008.
The airport has its own railway station, which continues to use the name Teesside Airport. The station is located around 15 minutes walk from the terminal however, and is served by just two trains per week. It is not mentioned on the airport's website.
Dinsdale railway station in the nearby village of Middleton St George is the closest station with regular passenger services.
A new station was planned to be built closer to the terminal (within 350m), as part of the Tees Valley Metro project. However, the project has now been officially abandoned. The Peel Group made its call for infrastructure improvements days after a report showed Teesside Airport station served just 14 passengers in a whole year.
Taxis are available directly outside the airport terminal.
On 3 September 2012, a volunteer support group for the airport, named FoDTVA ("Friends of Durham Tees Valley Airport") was launched. Run by a committee of local aviation enthusiasts and members of the public, with support from the airport management and owners, their aim is to promote, support and assist Durham Tees Valley Airport whenever and wherever possible. They charge a £12 per year membership fee to cover the costs of running the group, with any excess being donated to on-site charity the Great North Air Ambulance. The scheme is based on existing, established and similarly-named schemes at Doncaster Sheffield and Liverpool John Lennon Airports. The scheme was launched to the press on 19 November 2012.