Mayor hails ‘major step forward’ towards reviving airport

Re-opening Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) would provide the best opportunity to secure economic growth for South Yorkshire, according to an Outline Business Case published today – 5 February.

Last summer, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) awarded City of Doncaster Council £3.1m to draw up these proposals to take control of the airport through a leasing arrangement.

It would see operations at the airport resumed under a new business model, and the airport used “as an anchor for growth” at the wider Gateway East site to support economic regeneration.

City of Doncaster Council will have £138m made available by the MCA via Gainshare to support economic ambitions, which includes the airport. Gainshare funding refers to money committed to South Yorkshire through the Devolution Deal agreed by the MCA, South Yorkshire local authorities and the UK Government.

DSA has been the focus of efforts to re-open it since it was closed by owners Peel Group 15 months ago. Peel Group had argued the airport was not financially viable.

Commenting following publication of the Outline Business Case, South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard, said: “These proposals represent a major step towards re-opening our airport and delivering a 10-year plan for South Yorkshire Airport City at Gateway East; not only re-opening our airport but creating an internationally significant, sustainable aviation and advanced manufacturing hub in Doncaster.

Oliver Coppard

“This is part of our plan for growth across our whole region, delivering long term benefits for Doncaster and the whole of South Yorkshire, with a thriving regional airport at its heart.

“No ambitious plan is without risks, but alongside the other leaders in South Yorkshire, I believe the economic case is compelling.

“That cannot mean a blank cheque or a bad deal, so we are rightly following a process that is underpinned by robust governance.”

Revival plans for the airport are subject to the decision of the MCA Board, which meets to consider them on 13 February.

The Board is being asked to approve the recommendation to work up a Full Business Case which could be completed as soon as spring 2024.

The Outline Business Case (OBC) is built on creating a sustainable airport hub with the airport anchoring a focus on aviation-related advanced manufacturing, advanced engineering and the growing jet-zero and decarbonisation industries.

The OBC notes applied research is one of South Yorkshire’s core strengths and the opportunity exists to locate the next wave of advanced manufacturing at Gateway East connected to global markets through a reopened DSA.

It says linking the return of aviation to the UK’s first Investment Zone worth £160m with a focus on advance manufacturing could present significant opportunities for businesses and communities in Doncaster and the wider region, helping address long term challenges in productivity, worklessness and low wages.

City of Doncaster Council will continue to lead on the negotiation with airport owners and the procurement exercise to attract a new operator.

Mayor Ros Jones, of City of Doncaster Council, said: “I am pleased to say that lease negotiations continue to progress positively, and I am confident that we can agree a deal, but we are not over the line yet.

“Our airport represents incredible opportunities for Doncaster and South Yorkshire. City of Doncaster Council have entered the next stage of the procurement process, which is progressing as planned, with the aim of appointing an operator in the spring.

“This is yet another step in the right direction for us to see planes flying again from our airport.”