Doncaster Sheffield Airport: A timeline of events
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The site was home to several airlines operating short and long-haul flights in its early years, however by 2022 this had reduced to two.
10 June 2022: Wizz Air ceases operations from Doncaster Sheffield Airport, leaving TUI as its sole airline.
13 July 2022: Airport owner Peel Group announces a strategic review into its operations, stating that it “may no longer be financially viable.”
14 July 2022: Petitions are launched to save the airport, receiving over 25,000 signatures overnight.
16 July 2022: The South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) reveals that Peel had requested a £20 million loan, which was stalled after the company refused to share its accounts.
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard calls on the government to intervene, however a spokesperson says closure would be a “commercial decision”.
20 July 2022: Doncaster Council, SYMCA, Doncaster MPs and Peel Group form a working group to negotiate a solution.
9 August 2022: Plans for a railway station linking the airport with Lincoln and Sheffield are approved by the Department for Transport amidst the strategic review.
16 August 2022: Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher calls on Mayor Coppard to buy the airport, stating that “he has the powers” to do so.
18 August 2022: Doncaster’s three MPs, mayors of South Yorkshire and Doncaster and Aviation Minister Robert Courts sign a letter to Peel Group calling for the strategic review period to be extended.
13 September 2022: Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones states that there is a “serious” bidder interested in buying the airport.
23 September 2022: The SYMCA announces that it has offered Peel a “financial lifeline” to continue operations until 2023.
26 September 2022: Peel rejects the funding offer and announces that the airport will close in November, resulting in the loss of over 800 jobs.
28 September 2022: Mr Fletcher calls on local authorities to begin a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process which would force Peel Group to sell the site if successful.
Doncaster Council considers a CPO among several options, a process which would take up to two years if successful.
Peel representatives say they aim to bring “cutting-edge” businesses to the former airport site.
1 October 2022: Ed Miliband MP and Dame Rosie Winterton MP call upon the government to use the Civil Contingencies Act to prevent the site’s closure due to the emergency services operating there.
13 October 2022: Former Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan says she is “not persuaded” that the Civil Contingencies Act could be used to save the site.
Ms Trevelyan refuses to attend a meeting with local leaders, stating that the airport is a “commercial issue”, despite commitments from former Prime Minister Liz Truss to protect the site.
Mr Miliband, Louise Haigh MP and the GMB union deliver a 100,000 signature petition to save the airport to the Department for Transport.
25 October 2022: Peel Group rejects a second offer of £7 million from the SYMCA to extend its operations.
28 October 2022: Mr Fletcher calls for Mayor Coppard to return his devolved powers to government, claiming he has failed to use them to reopen the airport.
2 November 2022: Mayor Jones states that there are several interested parties aiming to buy the airport.
Peel representatives say that there has been “no credible offers”.
5 November 2022: The airport closes down after its final flight arrives.
13 January 2023: Peel Group rejects an offer from Doncaster Council to buy the site, but proposes that a leasehold agreement could be arranged.
1 February 2023: Mayor Coppard announces an independent inquiry into infrastructure in South Yorkshire to prevent another major closure.
12 April 2023: Doncaster Council approves the ‘South Yorkshire Airport City’ rescue strategy which includes planning measures to protect the site, pursuit of a leasehold agreement and £3.1 million for a last-resort CPO.
19 May 2023: An Article 4 direction is approved by Doncaster Council, preventing the demolition of infrastructure on the site without a full planning application.
5 June 2023: The SYMCA agrees to fund the legal process and purchase if a CPO is pursued.
3 July 2023: Doncaster Council launches the search for an investor to run the airport in a leasehold agreement with Peel.
15 July 2023: Mr Fletcher says he has been “excluded” and “censored” by Labour authorities in talks to reopen the airport.
12 September 2023: Mark Chadwick, administrator of the largest online campaign group ‘Save DSA’, says Mr Fletcher has taken credit for a 100,000 strong petition which he launched.
He accuses the MP of “trying to score political points” over the airport.
25 September 2023: Negotiations to select an investor who will enter a leasehold agreement for over 100 years are officially launched by Doncaster Council.
4 October 2023: Mayor Coppard criticises the HS2 replacement Network North transport scheme as the airport is not mentioned.
Mr Fletcher says the scheme is “fabulous” for the airport due to an additional £543 million funding through the second City Regional Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS2).
Mayor Coppard says this cannot be used for the airport as it is earmarked for 2027 onwards.
23 November 2023: Mayor Coppard presents a case to renew Sheffield Supertram at a cost of £596 million.
£100 million will be funded by CRSTS1 while the rest will be funded by a grant “such as CRSTS2”.
Mr Fletcher claims that the funding will use the majority of the CRSTS2 grant and reduce funding available to reopen the airport.
The local mayors say that the CRSTS2 grant is not yet available, and that each authority will get a share of the grant which will total £1.4 billion.
3 January 2024: A public meeting forming part of the infrastructure inquiry sparks a row over its independence and evolves into an argument over who is responsible for the airport’s closure.
Finningley councillors say they have been “closed out” from talks surrounding the airport despite continuing to maintain the area around the site.
Questions are raised over the independence of the Save DSA group after Mayor Coppard tells attendees to voice their opinions through the page.
Mr Chadwick says he runs the page independently and calls for an end to the “political blame game.”
21 January 2024: A Freedom of Information Request submitted by Mr Chadwick reveals that requests from Mayor Coppard to reroute a £30 million grant for the airport railway link to be used for its reopening were denied by the Department for Transport.
Mr Fletcher criticises the mayor, claiming that the grant should be used for the rail link only.
Mayor Coppard claims that the government will no longer allow the grant to be used for the rail link as a deadline for the funding to be used approaches.
The Department for Transport states that no formal request for the funding to be rerouted has been received, despite Mayor Coppard’s email communications with ministers.
Negotiations with Doncaster Council, potential investors and Peel Group continue to take place, with an investor set to be finalised in Spring.