Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) is crucial to South Yorkshire’s economy. It supports thousands of jobs, attracts inward investment, supports trade, and connects South Yorkshire internationally.
The aviation industry has suffered in recent years due to the changes brought about by Brexit and the continuing impact of Covid-19. However, working with the owners of the site, operators, and government, we are committed to not only finding a means to save DSA but to establishing it as a thriving airport at the forefront of South Yorkshire’s future.
To do that, we need the airport’s owners – Peel Group – to work with us, to realise the evident potential of a facility with a passenger catchment of millions.
To date, the Mayoral Combined Authority, the Local Enterprise Partnership and our local authorities have invested millions in the airport and the surrounding Gateway East Development, and we have been working with the government to further develop the airport’s rail connectivity. As well as loans totalling £8m, we have been in discussions about a further £20m loan to support the continued development of DSA. We are clear in our ambition about aviation’s place in our region. The closure of the airport would also risk limiting the potential for investment and development at Gateway East.
Within that context, Peel’s approach to engagement with our region’s political leadership has been disappointing. We now need them to both match our level of ambition for the site and engage with us to bring about the boost in passenger numbers we all want to see. We will be speaking directly to the Group’s Board and senior leadership team as a matter of urgency, and we are committed to working with them to ensure the future of DSA or finding an alternative private sector operator who can unlock its potential.
There is also a role for Government. Following recent announcements from South Yorkshire’s bus companies and the cancellation of rail services to both Leeds and Manchester, the government must now work with us to save our region’s airport.
If this government are serious about levelling up and committed to the promises made, both to the communities of South Yorkshire and the whole of the UK, now is their opportunity to demonstrate that commitment.
DSA features in the government’s Flightpath to the Future plan, in which they commit their support to regional airports. In their own words, “Ensuring this network is supported is key to achieving the positive economic outcomes the Government is determined to deliver for the whole of the UK.” We wholeheartedly agree and want to work with them to deliver on that vision that we work every day to deliver; a prosperous South Yorkshire at the heart of a global Great Britain.
Oliver Coppard, South Yorkshire’s Mayor
Councillor Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster
Councillor Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council
Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council