Airport in bid to bring new flights to Malta

A DELEGATION from Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport were heading for the Mediterranean island of Malta today in a bid to attract more operators to fly from South Yorkshire.

The team, which includes senior sales managers, will meet with tour operators at the annual Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) conference over the next three days.

The event brings together a large number of tour operators and trade contacts including Thomas Cook, Thomson, Holidays 4U, Olympic Holidays and Cosmos Holidays.

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Nick Smillie, aviation sales director at Robin Hood Airport, said it would give airport staff the ability to meet operators in one place and explore "route development opportunities".

Mr Smillie added: "This will be a great opportunity for us to talk to both incumbent operators and future prospects and develop relationships which will help us to grow the offering at Robin Hood Airport. The ABTA conference is particularly important to us as we have a strong traditional market looking for a good leisure holiday product."

Mr Smillie said Robin Hood Airport has a strong level of support from travel firms and was recently shortlisted for an award in the TTG Awards which is voted for by agents.

He described this week's travel convention as one of the "most significant events of the year for everyone involved in the UK travel and tourism industry".

Last month, budget airline easyJet announced that it was pulling out of Robin Hood Airport, just six months after it launched services from the site. The firm said it had decided to abandon operations from January 4 as a result of poor passenger numbers.

Flights to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Faro, Palma and Prague began on April 19 and airport and airline executives had predicted a bright future for the services.

At the time, Mr Smillie admitted flights to Amsterdam had been just 72 per cent full, and blamed the low passenger numbers on the scheduling of the flight, which leaves at 2pm daily.