Doncaster Sheffield Airport closure: what owners Peel Group said about DSA’s future, when is the last flight?

Doncaster Sheffield airport will fully close on 5 November

Doncaster Sheffield Airport will permanently close next month as the final flight is confirmed.

The move has left members of the GMB union “furious” as “hundreds if not thousands of people will see their future go up in smoke”.

The final flight is due to leave on Saturday 5 November 2022, on Bonfire Night.

The news comes as the owners of Doncaster Sheffield Airport met potential investors to attempt to save the airport from closing for good after the announcement in September, where Peel said there were “regretfully, no tangible proposals” put forward to save the airport from closure.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

When will Doncaster Sheffield Airport close?

The final flight from the Robin Hood Airport will depart on Saturday 5 November 2022.

Doncaster Sheffield’s terminal and associated infrastructure will remain available for passenger services until 7am that day, after which no further passenger activities will take place, the owners have said.

The final TUI inbound flight will take place on 4 November at 9.15pm, with the final commercial flight leaving for Manchester at 00:15 on 5 November.

Despite Doncaster Sheffield topping the Which? survey of best airports four years running and the offer of public cash to keep it open, the airport’s owners the Peel Group appear determined to close the transport hub.

Why was Doncaster Sheffield Airport under threat? 

Peel said the site will begin to wind down operations at the old RAF Finningley airbase, when it opened in 2005, from the end of October 2022.

Peel launched a “review of strategic options” and issued a statement which said the review “follows lengthy deliberations by the board of DSA which has reluctantly concluded that aviation activity on the site may no longer be commercially viable”.

In its initial statement, it said that DSA never achieved a critical mass of passengers to become profitable, which was amplified by the withdrawal of Wizz Air, leaving the airport with Tui as the only base carrier.

The firm said the “challenge has been increased by other changes in the aviation market, the well-publicised impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and increasingly important environmental considerations”.

It said: “It has therefore been concluded that aviation activity may no longer be the use for the site which delivers the maximum economic and environmental benefit to the region.”

How have people reacted to the news?

Ros Jones, the Mayor of Doncaster, has spoken about her plight to save the airport from closure as part of the #saveourairport campaign.

All 16 northern Chambers of Commerce and the Sheffield Property Association - who represent 17,000 member businesses and employ over two million people, signed a letter sent to the Prime Minister on 14 October.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport workers went to Parliament to hand in a 100,000 strong petition to save the site.

“Doncaster is one of the finest airports in the country. Workers love it, passengers love it and it’s vital for the south Yorkshire economy.

“Yet despite public cash being made available to keep it open, the Peel Group seem determined to close it, knock it down for housing and make as much money as possible, with no thought for the community.

“When the final flight leaves on Bonfire Night, hundreds if not thousands of people will see their future go up in smoke.

“GMB members are furious, the people of South Yorkshire can’t allow it to happen.”

What has Peel Group said on Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s closure?

In a statement issued on 26 September, Peel announced the strategic review had ended.

It continued: “Regretfully, no tangible proposals have been received regarding the ownership of the airport or which address the fundamental lack of financial viability. The high fixed costs associated with running a safe, regulated airport, together with recent events materially reducing prospective future aviation income streams, mean that a break-even business plan cannot be identified for the foreseeable future.

“As a result, DSA will begin winding down the provision of aviation services during the week commencing Monday, 31 October 2022. DSA will continue to work closely with airport customers and other users to explain the impact of this service reduction and work with them to minimise the disruption to their operations and customers.

“Since the July 2022 announcement of the Strategic Review, Peel has been actively engaging on a weekly basis with local and national political stakeholders, including proactively engaging with working group meetings, primarily led by officers at Doncaster Council, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and the Department for Transport (DfT).

"Throughout the consultation process up until today, Peel has also been in close contact with the airlines and other aviation users of the Airport. None of these discussions has delivered any tangible results that have changed the Board of DSA or Peel’s clear view that the Airport is and will remain unviable.

“Peel received a letter from the Mayor of South Yorkshire and Mayor of Doncaster on Thursday, 8 September, stating that they had completed an economic impact study of DSA which identified its economic benefit to the region but provided no solution to its lack of financial viability.

"Furthermore, they informed Peel that they had been approached by a group interested in purchasing or operating the airport. Peel has yet to receive a response to urgent requests for details on the consortium's identity, nor have the terms of any proposal or evidence of the consortium's financial standing or aviation expertise been provided.

“On Friday, 23 September, Peel received a further letter from SYMCA and Doncaster Council, which was supported by the Mayor of South Yorkshire and the Mayor of Doncaster, along with the Leaders of Barnsley and Rotherham, which included a proposal to provide public money to DSA to fund its operating losses until 31 October 2023. The grant was described as providing DSA with free cashflow to sustain losses that may occur over thirteen months while the Peel Group and South Yorkshire partners jointly explore the future potential of DSA and the GatewayEast site.

"In the absence of any actual proposals to address the lack of viability of DSA, even those at an early stage of development, or any identified potential acquirers or operators of DSA, Peel’s Board has concluded that it cannot responsibly accept public money for this highly uncertain process against the backdrop of an unviable, loss-making operating business.”