LONDON – The Peel Group has rejected another offer from Doncaster Council for the Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
The Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said that the council had recently approached The Peel Group to discuss a potential freehold purchase of the site, which was declined, according to ITV.
Peel Group Still Open to Offers, However…
It is understood that the Peel Group is still open to offers, with a proposed leasehold sale to be considered by Doncaster Council instead.
Jones said the following to ITV:
“I am a firm believer that Doncaster Sheffield Airport can and should be a success, the last six months have seen our great airport close, and I am committed to seeing it reopen.
“I am keen to avoid a costly legal battle if at all possible – but I am resolute in my determination to deliver on the mandate that Full Council provided in November, and the residents and businesses of Doncaster who agree with me that we need an airport for the benefit of the City, South Yorkshire region and beyond.”
“That is why as a council, we recently approached Peel to discuss the potential freehold purchase of the DSA site, which would secure its future ahead of the formalized Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process and would make the transaction considerably easier and quicker.
“Unfortunately, Peel declined this approach.”
“However, they have proposed a potential leasehold sale, which we are considering, whilst we continue with the preparatory stages of a CPO.”
November 30: Final Radio Broadcast from Doncaster Radar…
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 master plan – 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.
Budget airline Wizz Air announced in June that it was canceling “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.
Peel’s Comments Unwelcome Back Then…
Chairman of Peel Airports Group Robert Hough issued a statement on that day 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 sectors.
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.”
It remains clear that not all hope is lost yet, and it is hoped by many in the surrounding communities that a sale can be made to bring the airport back to life.
All eyes will be on Doncaster Council to ensure that they can get this over the line and save thousands of jobs.
But for now, all we can do is sit and wait to see whether the Council can twist the arm of the Peel Group and make the rescue happen.