Doncaster Sheffield Airport: Budget airline TUI 'keen to return' to re-opened airport and could be main carrier

Airline TUI has told Doncaster Council that the carrier is ‘keen’ to return to a re-opened Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

The council agreed a 125-year lease to operate the airport with landowners Peel last month, but will outsource the running of the site to an experienced aviation industry operator and are currently in negotiations with bidders.

Yet discussions have also taken place with TUI, which was the last major airline to remain at Doncaster Sheffield when it closed in autumn 2022.

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Mayor Ros Jones said: “Following our lease announcement last month, we have heard from TUI that they are keen to return to our airport, and we have kept in regular contact with them since the structural review of the former DSA site was announced.

TUI launching its Dreamliner flight from Doncaster Sheffield to Florida in 2019TUI launching its Dreamliner flight from Doncaster Sheffield to Florida in 2019
TUI launching its Dreamliner flight from Doncaster Sheffield to Florida in 2019

"We have engaged TUI with the bidders for their return to our airport to be explored and we are hopeful that we will see TUI’s brand back in Doncaster.

“Their spokesman has told us that TUI has always supported Doncaster Sheffield Airport and was disappointed when the airport closed. They are excited about actively engaging with stakeholders about a potential re-opening.”

The final bidders for the operating contract are currently finalising their business plans and have been given access to the site, the former RAF Finningley base.

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Mayor Jones also thanked local campaigner Mark Chadwick, who runs a Facebook group raising awareness of efforts to re-open the airport and has lobbied various bodies for information.

She said: “I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Mark Chadwick for all his support in leading the #saveDSA campaign.

"Mark continues to be influential in maintaining public interest and optimism. He helped spread the message of hope far and wide and continues to keep people informed and thus his contribution cannot be understated.

“For the next couple of months or so it will be a bit quiet, as the confidential process to appoint an operator reaches its conclusion. Once there is anything further to announce then of course I will keep everyone updated.”

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TUI operated the first flight to depart Doncaster in 2005 under its former brand Thomson, and the final arrival to touch down on the runway from Egypt.

The carrier’s management always opposed Peel’s decision to declare Doncaster commercially unviable, saying it was a popular base with customers.

TUI and Wizz Air were the only major airlines flying out of Doncaster at the time of closure, with TUI subsequently increasing its capacity at Leeds Bradford, East Midlands and Manchester, and Wizz transferring its routes to Leeds Bradford.

The National Police Air Service could also be persuaded to return – their fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters had a purpose-built terminal at Doncaster Sheffield from 2016, but after the closure moved temporarily to Leeds Bradford and now have a permanent base at East Midlands, from where they began flying at the end of 2023.

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