‘Lack of tangible proposals’ to save Airport

The owners of Doncaster Sheffield Airport have extended the timetable for its strategic review of the site but has said there is a “lack of any tangible proposals”.

Peel Group announced last month that it planned to stop flights from the Airport because they said “aviation activity on the site may no longer be commercially viable”.

DSA and the Peel Group began a consultation programme on the future of the site and “how best to maximise and capitalise on future economic growth opportunities for Doncaster and the wider Sheffield City Region”.

Peel has now extended the consultation to September 16 “to allow more time for key stakeholders to conclude their discussions”, although there had been requests for the group to take the rest of the year.

In a downbeat statement, Peel said: “To continue the uncertainty by prolonging the Strategic Review until the end of 2022 as requested without any tangible proposals to consider would be unsustainable for colleagues employed at the Airport and untenable for our business partners, airlines and passengers.”

It is just four years since the airport set out a 20-year masterplan that forecast airport passenger numbers would increase to 4.7m per year. With the airport handling a record 1.4m passengers and 17,600 tonnes of cargo in the last pre-pandemic year, 2019, but it has faced severe turbulence lately.

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 decision left the airport with only one base carrier, TUI.

Peel Group acquired the airport site in 1999 and converted it into an international commercial airport, which opened in 2005. In the statement it noted that since then the group has invested “significant amounts” in the terminal, the airfield and its operations, both in the initial conversion and in subsequent upgrades to facilities.

Peel Group is also developing the GatewayEast site next to the airport, with Panattoni, the largest industrial real estate developer in Europe, submitting plans for a 417,570 sq ft facility in March.

The £1.7bn plans for the wider GatewayEast development could create up to 35,000 jobs and see 3,000 homes built over the next 15 years. The designs are for 11m sq ft of residential and commercial space with a focus on advanced manufacturing, innovation and logistics.

The site has also been the focus for talk around a high-value innovation cluster with the airport’s owners Peel Group, Doncaster Sheffield Airport and the University of Sheffield previously announcing a partnership to “unlock the economic potential of the area”.