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Mr Richmond, who took over the running of Peel in June last year, when Vancouver Airport Services bought a 65 per cent stake in the company, rejected claims that the owners were not working hard enough to secure new routes and airlines.

He said: I see letters sometimes where there is an inference we want it to shut or that we dont care nothing can be further from the truth.

I have three airports and the other two airports have six million passengers, yet I spend half my time on Durham Tees Valley thinking what we can do.

Peel also owns Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield.

DTV has been dealt a succession of blows in recent years, which have seen passenger numbers fall from about 650,000 in 2008 to predictions of only 200,
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000 this year.

The biggest setback came in 2009 when bmi baby cancelled three daily flights to Heathrow, Flyglobespan and Thomson cancelled their flights and Ryanair axed its service to Dublin.

The airport still offers regular services to Aberdeen, Southampton and Schiphol, in Holland, as well as seasonal charter flights to countries including Spain, Italy, Bulgaria and Egypt.

Mr Richmond is hopeful of securing a new service later this year after lengthy talks with unnamed airlines,
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but he stressed that the airport needed the regions support to show carriers they could prosper at DTV.