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26 Sep 2022 by Mark Caswell

The owner of Doncaster Sheffield has confirmed that the airport is to close at the end of next month.

The airport’s future had been in doubt since the summer, following the recent cancellation of a large number of Wizz Air services, as well as falling passenger numbers as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the demise of the original Flybe.

In August Doncaster Council released an update stating that the Peel Group had confirmed in meetings with senior officers that it would “look at all options to keep the airport open”.

Doncaster Council: Peel Group looking at all options to keep airport open

But today (September 26, 2022) the group said that its strategic review of the airport’s operations had ended, adding that “Regretfully, no tangible proposals have been received regarding the ownership of the airport or which address the fundamental lack of financial viability”.

Peel said that “The high fixed costs associated with running a safe, regulated airport, together with recent events materially reducing prospective future aviation income streams, mean that a break-even business plan cannot be identified for the foreseeable future”.

Aviation services will now begin winding down from Monday October 31, 2022.

Peel said that earlier in the month it had been informed by the Mayor of South Yorkshire and Mayor of Doncaster of an approach by a group “interested in purchasing or operating the airport”, but added that it had yet to receive a response to requests for details on the consortium’s identity, “nor have the terms of any proposal or evidence of the consortium’s financial standing or aviation expertise been provided”.

The group also said that it had subsequently received a further letter from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and Doncaster Council, which had included a proposal to provide public money to DSA to fund its operating losses until October 31, 2023, but the board had concluded that “it cannot responsibly accept public money for this highly uncertain process against the backdrop of an unviable, loss-making operating business”.

“We recognise that we are living in uncertain times, and we understand that our announcement will be difficult to hear for the Doncaster and wider South Yorkshire communities in which we have worked and invested for over two decades,” said Steven Underwood, chief executive, Peel Group.

“However, as has been seen many times before in industries undergoing structural change, although change brings uncertainty it can also bring significant opportunity.

“As the Strategic Review concludes, we look forward to collaborating with our partners to create a vibrant, long-term vision for GatewayEast and the airport site. We will not accept any public sector grant to cover the costs of an airport that is not viable due to its lack of adequate forward revenues and high operating costs.

“Accepting funds from SYMCA may postpone the inevitable for another thirteen months, but it will divert funds away from services on which communities throughout South Yorkshire rely.

“Instead, we intend to continue working closely with local and national stakeholders to develop a forward-thinking strategy for the airport site, in conjunction with the £1.7 billion GatewayEast development next door, to help unlock vibrant, job-creating alternatives to ensure future growth and prosperity.

“We have the potential to attract cutting-edge, future-tech businesses to South Yorkshire, but only if we are able to collaborate with our local stakeholders and community in South Yorkshire.”