Political leaders confident Doncaster Sheffield Airport will reopen

Political leaders in South Yorkshire are confident that Doncaster Sheffield Airport will reopen.

Owners The Peel Group shut the airport in November, claiming it had never made a profit due to a lack of passengers.

South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard and Doncaster Council are attempting to find a new operator who can reopen it.

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They are also urging The Peel Group to lease Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) to a new operator, but said the council will use a compulsory purchase order to buy it if no deal can be reached.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Credit: Marie CaleyDoncaster Sheffield Airport. Credit: Marie Caley
Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Credit: Marie Caley

“We’ll keep fighting,” said Mr Coppard. “Still a long way to go but there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Earlier this year the mayor’s office agreed to provide the council with at least £3.1m for legal fees, in case a compulsory purchase order is required.

But it said millions of pounds of extra funding could be needed if the council has to contest the CPO at a planning inquiry and pay a fee to buy the site.

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DSA could be profitable within five years of reopening and be used by 2m passengers annually within 10 years, according to a financial viability assessment conducted by consultants at EY.

The assessment also stated the airport could support 16,500 jobs and provide a £1.5bn economic boost for the local economy.

It said reopening an airport which has historically operated at a loss comes with risks and there will be some “very significant” reinstatement costs.

But it also stated that “work done to date suggests that reopening DSA is feasible and would bring significant benefits to Doncaster and the wider region”.

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The council, which has declared a climate emergency, has accepted the move would lead to a large increase in harmful fossil fuel emissions.

Airports are a significant contributor to global carbon emissions with a negative overall impact on climate change,” it stated in its report.

“However, the airline industry is undergoing significant transformation in carbon neutral practices and, on a number of levels, airports can exploit opportunities which impact positively on the environment."

The Peel Group previously has claimed that DSA never turned a profit, despite more than £250m of investment.

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DSA handled a record 1.4m passengers in the last pre-pandemic year, 2019.

But just 403,869 passengers used the airport in the 12 months ending in March 2022, when it recorded an operating loss of £4.3m.

Mr Coppard urged the company to keep the airport open last year and set up meetings with investors interested in a takeover, but no deal was reached.

He also met with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who agreed to buy Durham Tees Valley Airport from The Peel Group in 2018 as part of a £40m deal.

The airport, renamed Teesside International Airport, has struggled since the takeover and it recorded an overall loss of £11.9m in 2021/22.