LONDON – The recent proposal to close Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) has evoked a wave of support to oppose the move, with an on-line petition gaining the support of local politicians, and demonstrations planned.
A review by management company Peel Holdings earlier this month returned the finding that the regional airport may not be commercially viable, citing the downturn wrought by the global pandemic, and the loss of a major airline operator.
The Wizzair decision
Following the inevitable shortfall in passenger numbers during the pandemic, a significant body blow for the airport was struck when airline operator Wizzair announced its shock decision to quit operations last month.
Peel Holdings PLC, who also own Liverpool John Lennon, Durham Tees Valley and Sheffield airports, originally acquired the DSA facility in 1999, and it has operated as a commercial airport since 2005.
DSA was servicing an average of 1.4 million passengers annually prior to the pandemic, with Wizzair accounting for a significant proportion of that total.
With many carriers facing the difficult post-pandemic return to solvency and route re-inauguration, the decision was taken by Wizzair to abandon operations at DSA to shore up other southern routes.
Airport management described the move as ‘sacrificing’ Doncaster Airport and claimed they had only learned of the carrier’s decision after they heard about it on social media.
The withdrawal of service by Wizzair left just one other major carrier – TUI Airlines operating from the airport.
An online petition gains momentum
An online petition to Save Doncaster Sheffield airport established by local group Yorkshire Plane Spotters has now accrued over 81,000 signatures to oppose the closure decision.
The group cites a key concern as being the potential for job losses and the economic impact the closure will leave in its wake for the local region. Their on-line petition page observes:
“Doncaster Sheffield airport serves Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and many more towns around the UK. Hundreds of jobs will be lost at the airport. I feel like Doncaster, which has just become a city in the last couple of months, will be going backwards if the airport shuts down.”
“The airport has the potential to become one of the best in the UK with a great terminal building great links to towns and city’s (sic) with the newly built link road.”
“Doncaster currently serves routes around Europe and the USA and Mexico this would be a tragedy if this gets taken away from us.”
Bipartisan political support
The raising of the on-line petition by the Yorkshire Plane Spotters group has gathered further bipartisan support from local politicians.
According to local news source YorkshireLive, several MPs who have thrown their support behind the move to opposed the proposed closure.
They include the Conservative MP for Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher, as well as Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw, Alexander Stafford, the Conservative MP for Rother Valley and Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham.
A demonstration against the closure has been planned by the petition organisers for Saturday August 13.