LONDON – Doncaster Sheffield Airport, 30 November 2022: “All stations, Doncaster Radar is closed for the final time. All stations, Doncaster ATZ is closed.”
With that final broadcast, which went out to all stations from Doncaster Radar service yesterday, perhaps the final curtain has now officially come down on Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
It is just four years since the airport laid out its 20-year masterplan – a plan which had forecast airport passenger numbers would increase to 4.7 million movements per year.
With the airport handling a record 1.4m passengers and 17,600 tonnes of cargo in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019, the onset of the Covid-19 era hit the airport hard.
Above: A final METAR (Meteorological Aerodrome Report) for Doncaster Sheffield Airport
Budget airline Wizz Air announced in June that it was cancelling “a large number” of its flights because it was unable to guarantee the terms of its commercial agreement.
The evacuation by the European budget airline reportedly dissolved into a row between airport and airline management.
From there, the announcement of a review into the future commercial viability of the airport by Peel Airports Group seemed to confirm the bleak trajectory that the airport seemed to be steadily taking.
The decision by Wizz Air effectively left the airport with only one base carrier, TUI.
Hopes were raised in September when the south Yorkshire mayoral combined authority (SYMCA) made an offer of public money to allow the airport to remain open until October next year, with a private consortium interested in purchasing the airport and time needing to be made to allow the deal to go through.
Sadly a private deal failed to eventuate and a further blow was struck in November, when TIU also called it a day at Doncaster Sheffield with its final flight out bearing the tribute callsign of TOM1DSA.
Chairman of Peel Airports Group Robert Hough issued a statement saying: “We recognize that this will come as a great disappointment to many. The intractable problem remains the fundamental and insufficient lack of current or prospective revenue streams, together with the airport’s high operating costs.
“Our employees have always been DSA’s greatest asset, and we are grateful to them all, past and present, for their dedication and diligence over the years. The immediate priority remains to continue engaging closely with them over the next few weeks.
“As such, DSA will now begin a formal process of consulting with team members. We will do everything we can to minimize the impact of these proposals and work closely with local authorities and agencies to support our employees through what we know will be an extremely difficult period.”
This came as cold comfort to over 800 locals who were directly employed by the facility, with the broader fallout affecting both the private and local business sector. It was estimated that the airport indirectly supported around 2,700 jobs in the wider community.
A final statement from the Peel Group said: “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.”
AviationSource was first made aware of the developing plight of the Doncaster Sheffield Airport by local aviation interest group Yorkshire Plane Spotters, who had been instrumental in administering an on-line petition to fight the impending closure.
The final broadcast by Doncaster Radar is painfully felt by the ‘avgeek’ community and the local region – all in all, it’s the close of an era and a tragic loss for all concerned.
“All stations, Doncaster Radar is closed for the final time. All stations, Doncaster ATZ is closed.”