News

Doncaster airport’s future in doubt

13 Jul 2022 by Alex McWhirter
Doncaster Sheffield airport

When Doncaster Sheffield airport (DSA) opened in 2005 it was tipped to become an international gateway for South Yorkshire.

Until DSA opened South Yorkshire had no airport capable of handling non-stop long-haul flights.

Yes there had been a new airport at Sheffield (modelled after London City) but it failed to attract sufficient travellers and was closed.

However the promise shown by DSA failed to materialise, and today Peel Group (the owners of DSA) have announced that this airport “may no longer be commercially viable.”

Peel Group blames falling passenger numbers because of the pandemic, environmental considerations and the decision by Wizzair to cancel its DSA base. (DSA had already lost Flybe as a customer two years ago)

In truth, DSA has failed to attract the right type of scheduled airlines which could provide South Yorkshire with global connectivity.

Here I am not talking about long-haul airlines. I refer to sixth-freedom carriers like KLM who could feed travellers to their global hubs. The only airlines DSA has attracted until now are holiday charters and low-cost carriers. The latter, as we have seen time and time again, have little loyalty to any particular airport.

Personally I am disappointed. The region needs an airport with a long runway capable of accommodating long-haul flights in the future.

The long runway is because DSA was previously RAF Finningley.

Although not located in South Yorkshire the region’s two others airports in Leeds and Humberside both have limitations.

DSA has a better location than both Leeds and Humberside. It is located close to both the A1 trunk road and the ECML (East Coast mainline). It’s not too far from Doncaster town centre which is served by a myriad of rail services.

In February 2020 (just before the pandemic arrived in the UK) DSA along with local authorities in Sheffield and Doncaster unveiled an ambitious plan which envisaged much growth over the coming years and a link to the busy ECML But nothing happened.

Flights will continue to operate as normal at DSA during a six week consultation period.

Peel Group is a property developer and one would hope that runway capacity can be retained in future.

As an aside DSA and Wizzair made the headlines for all the wrong reasons last April when a Luton-bound flight ended up 200 miles from London.

Flydsa.co.uk

Added

Aviation analytics firm Cirium provided the following data:

Doncaster-Sheffield Airport

• Pre-pandemic, in 2019, the airport was the 26th biggest in the UK by departing flights, falling to 28th place in 2021
• In 2019, it recorded 4,609 departures – equating to nearly 750,000 seats, most of which taken by Wizz Air and the former Flybe
• In 2021, 1,817 flights were scheduled to depart Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, with Wizz Air being the largest operator, followed by TUI and BH Air
• In 2021, Bucharest was the most popular destination with 171 flights, followed by Tenerife South (141 flights) and Lanzarote (127 flights)
• This year, the airport only sees Wizz Air and TUI operate flights, with the two airlines connecting the airport to 44 destinations.

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