Concerns grow over threat to Doncaster Sheffield Airport

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Thousands of people have signed a petition to save a regional airport after its owners announced it may no longer be commercially viable.

News that Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) owner Peel Group has launched a ‘strategic options review’ has been met with dismay in South Yorkshire, where the facility is seen as a key regional economic development plans.

Political leaders have urged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to intervene.

The airport released a statement saying the review “follows lengthy deliberations by DSA’s Board of Directors which reluctantly concluded that aviation activity at the site may no longer be commercially viable.”

The airport opened in 2005 after being converted by the Peel Group from the former RAF Finningley air base.

DSA said in its statement that DSA never reached a critical mass of passengers to become profitable and this “fundamental problem of lack of passengers” was exacerbated by the announcement last month of the withdrawal of Wizz Air.

This left the airport with Tui as the sole base carrier.

The company said “the challenge has been heightened by other changes in the aviation market, the high-profile impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and growing environmental considerations”.

He said: “It has therefore been concluded that aviation activity can no longer be the use of the site which provides the maximum economic and environmental benefits to the region.”

Robert Hough, President of Peel Airports Group, said: “This is a critical time for aviation around the world. Although pandemic-related travel restrictions are slowly coming to an end, we still face ongoing obstacles and dynamic long-term threats to the future of the aviation industry.

“Wizz’s actions to sacrifice his base in Doncaster to shore up his business opportunities at other bases in the south of England are a blow to the airport.”

Shadow Transport Secretary and Labor MP for Sheffield Louise Haigh said she had written to Mr Shapps asking what he would do to save the airport, saying the announcement presented a ‘significant issue for the competitiveness of our city and our region as a whole”.

South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said: ‘It is disappointing that Peel appears unwilling to match our ambition for DSA and has been unable to unlock the clear potential of an airport with a potential customer base of few millions.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting with Peel Group to find the best way forward for communities in South Yorkshire, and I will speak directly to the government about the importance of our regional airport to South Yorkshire’s economic prospects.”

An online petition launched to ‘Save Doncaster Sheffield Airport’ reached 13,000 signatures on Thursday, with one contributor saying: ‘Doncaster is a highly connected city with good motorway and rail links. How can the government be serious about upgrading if it allows the shutdown? »

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