Mayor says ‘market interest’ exists for threatened Doncaster Sheffield Airport

South Yorkshire’s Mayor says market interest does exist to keep Doncaster Sheffield Airport operational, despite its current owner having said the airport cannot hit the “critical mass” required to sustain passenger operations.

Oliver Coppard today said he had written to the Home Office and would also contact the Ministry of Defence, asking them to confirm their intentions for the future of their contracted services based at Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA).

He pointed out that both coastguard and military flights are an important part of the airport’s future, so he is asking both government departments to confirm their intention is to keep using DSA.

Earlier this summer, current owner Peel Group began a review into the airport, claiming it was no longer commercially viable.

Peel said it had worked hard to make DSA successful, investing about £250m of its private capital over 17 years, but warned the airport has never made a profit, despite its efforts.

Coppard said his office has been continuing to work with consultants to engage the market in the possible sale of DSA.

“We’ve taken the decision to do that work ourselves in response to Peel’s continued reluctance to make any attempts to open-up the airport for sale or lease,” he added.

“It’s very early days but there is market interest in DSA. I’ve said from the beginning of this process that we need an owner that shows as much ambition for DSA as we have shown for the airport and Gateway East over the last decade plus.

“The best hope for DSA is a company or companies who know the aviation industry, and that’s what we’re looking for.

“We also need Peel to be actively open to working with us to find an alternative owner or operator.”

Coppard said he had been told John Whittaker – chairman of Peel Group – would be meeting the Government’s Aviation Minister next week, but noted that no-one from South Yorkshire has been invited to join that meeting.

“I urge the Government to ensure South Yorkshire is part of those discussions as we can best represent the region,” Coppard said.

Commenting last month, a Peel spokesman said the business was open to receiving credible proposals that address the problem of DSA’s lack of commercial viability.

He said: “Peel has made it clear it is not interested in proposals that inject loans to fund operational losses or equity partnerships to share losses based on a fundamentally unviable operating model.

“For any ownership proposal to be seriously considered, it would need to both recognise Peel’s significant historical investment in the site and its infrastructure, the inherent value of the site when combined with the GatewayEast development and vitally it would need to bring material additional commercial revenues to make the operating model viable.

“To date, Peel has not received any clear proposals from any party.”

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