Doncaster Sheffield Airport: Mayor ‘hopeful’ after council requests funding for rescue plan

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones said millions of pounds of public money will be needed “to give us the best chance” of reopening the local airport.

The Peel Group shut Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) in November last year, claiming it had never made a profit due to low passenger numbers, but Doncaster Council is now looking to lease it and find an operator to run it.

The council is aiming to agree a deal with an operator by March 2024, but said some are concerned about the risks of reopening the airport and the “significant reinstatement costs”, as they will need to recruit staff and “restore essential infrastructure”.

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Earlier this week council leaders agreed to submit an outline business case for reopening DSA, which states operators will be offered millions of pounds of taxpayer-funded subsidies as an incentive to invest.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport.Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

The Labour-run council said it needs “a significant sum” for this plan from the £138m Gainshare fund, which was promised to Doncaster by the government as part of South Yorkshire’s devolution deal, but it has not revealed how much it is requesting.

A council spokesman said that figure is “commercially confidential as negotiations are ongoing” and costs “have not been finalised”.

South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) will provide the money, if it approves a full business case from the council.

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In a statement, Mayor Jones said “the path ahead is not easy” and “it is not guaranteed to succeed”.

“I am however hopeful; we are following a very careful plan to give us the best chance of seeing our great airport reopen,” she added.

“There will of course be costs, these will depend on any deal agreed with the airport landowners and an airport operator.”

She highlighted an assessment conducted for the council which states reopening the airport could deliver a £2bn boost for the local economy and support 5,000 direct jobs, if a 30-year expansion plan can be delivered.

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The council said it is keen to agree a deal with a new operator as the Civil Aviation Authority is considering plans to remove the site’s controlled airspace, which is required for commercial flights.