Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s (DSA) future is up in the air, it was announced yesterday, due to problems that have risen from COVID-19, a shortfall in passenger numbers, environmental considerations and the impact of Wizz Air flight cancellations.
Formerly known as Robin Hood Airport, the airport can be found near Doncaster and serves around 1.4 million passengers a year and flies to 54 destinations worldwide.
Passengers could fly with Ryanair, Flybe Wizz Air from the airport until recently. The BBC reported that the board of the airport believe the business “may no longer be commercially viable.”
Naturally, the news has been met with upset from locals, with almost 25,000 people signing a petition to save the airport in just 24 hours. Hosted on Change.org, the petition expresses concern for the number of jobs that will be lost should the airport close, also revealing concern that Doncaster could “go backwards” if it loses its airport.
The news of the potential closure comes just weeks after Doncaster was finally granted city status.
Before any decisions are made, there will be a six-week consultation to decide the airport’s future – with passengers told it will operate as normal during this period.
In a statement, the DSA and the Peel Group said: “never achieved the critical mass required to become profitable”.
Robert Hough, chair of Peel Group’s airports, said: “Despite pandemic-related travel restrictions slowly drawing to a close, we are still facing ongoing obstacles and dynamic long-term threats to the future of the aviation industry.
“The actions by Wizz Air to sacrifice its base at Doncaster to shore up its business opportunities at other bases in the South of England are a significant blow for the airport.”
The shadow transport secretary and Sheffield Heeley MP has written to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to ensure the future of the airport.
She said: “The announcement from Peel Group is extremely worrying for jobs and investment in South Yorkshire – Peel must not renege on the ambition that has been set for our airport and our region.
“The government has completely failed to support the aviation sector as we recover from Covid, and jobs have been lost as a result.”
Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire, said he has called an urgent meeting with the county’s four local authorities to discuss the decision.
“It’s disappointing that Peel do not seem willing to match our ambition for DSA and have not been able to unlock the evident potential of an airport with a prospective customer base of millions,” he said.
“My office was in discussion with Peel Group about a loan of £20m for the delivery of their plans for the airport, and have been in detailed discussion with government about further developing the connectivity of the DSA site.”
Labour councillor Glyn Jones, deputy mayor of Doncaster, called it “very disappointing news”.
“The airport is a major asset to Doncaster and the wider region and I am urging that all avenues to make it viable commercially are fully investigated”.
The active petition can be found and signed here.