Doncaster Sheffield Airport facing permanently closure as site ‘not profitable’, bosses warn

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Doncaster Sheffield Airport faces permanent closure just a month after Wizz Air said it is withdrawing its aircraft

Donacaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) could be permanently closed as the airport “may no longer be comercially viable”, bosses warn.

The announcement comes just a month after Wizz Air announced it was withdrawing its aircraft from the site, leaving the airport with TUI as its only base carrier.

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It also follows the recent decision from managing director Chris Harcombe to step down from his role.

The airport opened to passengers in 2005 and is one of two commercial international airports in Yorkshire, alongside Leeds Bradford Airport.

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

What has the airport board said?

The board of DSA is reviewing options for the site following lengthy deliberations which “reluctantly concluded that aviation activity on the site may no longer be commercially viable.”

The airport’s owners and principal funder Peel Group said it had taken external independent advice and concurred with the board’s findings.

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It said that despite significant investment and growth in passenger numbers, the airport had “never achieved the critical mass required to become profitable.”

In a statement, a spokesman said: “The Board of Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) has begun a review of strategic options for the Airport.

"This 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.

“DSA’s owner, the Peel Group, as the Airport’s principal funder, has reviewed the conclusions of the Board of DSA and commissioned external independent advice in order to evaluate and test the conclusions drawn, which concurs with the Board’s initial findings.

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“Since the Peel Group acquired the Airport site in 1999 and converted it into an international commercial airport, which opened in 2005, significant amounts have been invested in the terminal, the airfield and its operations, both in relation to the original conversion and subsequently to improve the facilities and infrastructure on offer to create an award winning airport.

“However, despite growth in passenger numbers, DSA has never achieved the critical mass required to become profitable and this fundamental issue of a shortfall in passenger numbers is exacerbated by the announcement on 10 June 2022 of the unilateral withdrawal of the Wizz Air based aircraft, leaving the Airport with only one base carrier, namely TUI.

“This 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 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.

“Against this backdrop, DSA and the Peel Group, will initiate a consultation and engagement programme with stakeholders on the future of the site and how best to maximise and capitalise on future economic growth opportunities for Doncaster and the wider Sheffield City Region.

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“The wider Peel Group is already delivering significant development and business opportunities on its adjoining GatewayEast development including the recent deal for over 400,000 sq ft logistics and advanced manufacturing development on site, creating hundreds of new jobs and delivering further economic investment in the region.

Robert Hough, Chairman of Peel Airports Group, which includes Doncaster Sheffield Airport, added: “It is a critical time for aviation globally. Despite pandemic related travel restrictions slowly drawing to a close, we are still facing ongoing obstacles and dynamic long-term threats to the future of the aviation industry.

“The actions by Wizz to sacrifice its base at Doncaster to shore up its business opportunities at other bases in the South of England are a significant blow for the Airport.

“Now is the right time to review how DSA can best create future growth opportunities for Doncaster and for South Yorkshire. The Peel Group remains committed to delivering economic growth, job opportunities and prosperity for Doncaster and the wider region.”

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Doncaster Free Press.