TUI boss Andrew Flintham says 'great' Doncaster Sheffield Airport should stay open
Peel Group made the shock announcement on July 13 that a strategic review was beginning into the future of the airport, a move greeted with dismay across the region.
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard has been searching for a new operator to save it from closure, and announced last week that a “credible consortium” with “extensive aviation experience” was interested.
Peel, which opened DSA in 2005, after converting the old RAF Finningley air base, postponed the scheduled announcement regarding the conclusion of the strategic review until September 26 as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Mr Flintham said: “We’re pretty ambivalent about the kind of ownership or structure. We just want the airport to continue and provide a great service for its local community.
“We have a great customer base that loves flying from there. We have strong bookings for the airport going forwards but clearly people are concerned and that uncertainty doesn’t help people booking for future months and summers.”
Tui is now the only airline with a base at DSA after Wizz Air suddenly withdrew its flights this summer.
Tui employs 200 people who are directly involved in the airport and operated five aircraft out of Doncaster this summer.
“For many of our customers, I’d say it’s their most favourite regional airport and it’s always been great for us and we’ve grown over the many years that we’ve been there,” Mr Flintham said.
He added that he had had conversations with the South Yorkshire mayoral authority and central government to pledge TUI’s commitment to the airport but he had “no knowledge” of the parties making up the consortium.
“We aren’t in the business of owning airports so it’s not something that we would particularly want to add to our portfolio but we are fully engaging to to try and support the process of finding a new owner because we are the mainstay and the stable carrier that’s been in that airport since the beginning,” Mr Flintham said.
If the airport were to close, he said Tui would look at moving its aircraft to other airports, including Leeds Bradford, and it would put jobs in jeopardy.
Mr Flintham added: “Regional airports are absolutely crucial. We are an airline and a holiday company that operates across 24 airports in the UK so we are the kings of regional airports.
“We know our customers absolutely love to be able to go from their favourite local airport and many of those local airports are much nicer to operate through or, as a customer, to go through than some of the bigger airports.
“It’s a huge part of what we offer to customers and Doncaster is one of the best."