Doncaster Sheffield Airport: Aviation Minister Hands the Matter to Local Council

Doncaster Sheffield Airport terminal building
Photo Credit: Doncaster Sheffield Airport

LONDON – In the latest development in the battle to save Doncaster Sheffield Airport, it is understood that the Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security, Robert Courts has signalled that the matter of the impending closure of the airport facility be handled by the local council.

In essence, the measure signals that the government is apparently not prepared to intervene to save the airport from closure. It is understood that the Minister has written to the mayor of South Yorkshire, urging him to find other ways to keep the airport operational.

July news of Doncaster Sheffield Airport closure


News of the regional airport’s impending closure broke last month, when management company Peel Holdings returned the finding that the regional airport may not be commercially viable.

Their conclusion was the culmination of a review process that involved a period of consultation with airport staff.

In its statement, the management group said the airport “never achieved the critical mass required to become profitable” – citing the significant loss of a key operator Wizzair, as well as the downturn from the pandemic period.

Aviation Minister’s previous statement


Last month, a question was put to the UK Secretary of State for Transport by Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield, Heeley and Shadow Transport Secretary.

The question posed asked whether his Department has received any information on the future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport from (a) that airport or (b) the Peel Group. (UIN 36013, tabled on 13 July 2022)

In his formal response dated 20 July, Aviation, Maritime and Security Minister Robert Courts stated the following:

“I recognise that Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s (DSA) review into the future of the airport will be concerning for passengers and people who work at the airport.”

“The Department was notified on the 13 July along with other local stakeholders about the announcement. My officials are in contact with the airport to understand its plans and I am due to meet Peel Group later this week.”

“It would be inappropriate to comment whilst the review is ongoing. However, we hope that the review will be able to ensure a future for aviation at DSA.”

“Since the start of the pandemic, we estimate that the air transport sector (airlines, airport and related services) has benefitted from around £8bn of government support.”

“This includes support through loan guarantees, support for exporters, the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and the Airport and Ground Operations Scheme (AGOSS) from which DSA was awarded £1,758,720 in grant payments.”

“Ministers and officials engage extensively with the Aviation industry on a regular basis.”

“As the Aviation Minister, I visited Doncaster Sheffield Airport on 3 June meeting with the Chairman of Peel Airports and the leadership team of the airport.”

“Officials from the Department continue to meet with representatives from DSA as part of routine engagement on a range of matters.”

Summary


To date, the news of the impending closure has drawn strong local reaction. An on-line petition has been well supported and the group responsible plans further action by way of public demonstrations.

The mayor of South Yorkshire recently called on the UK government to change what he characterised as their “short-sighted, hands off approach” to helping secure the future of the airport.

Local area MPs have warned that 800 local jobs are on the line, if the facility is forced to close.

About the author

Len Varley

A former Chief Pilot/Chief Flying Instructor, Len has 35 years experience in diverse aviation roles. Speaks fluent Australian & English! Len is the Assistant Editor for AviationSource.

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