Doncaster Sheffield Airport: One year on from final flight, hopes remain for fresh take-off
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It was on November 4 that the TUI flight from Egypt touched down at approximately 9.15pm to a welcoming party made up of staff members who lined up to witness its arrival amid emotional scenes.
Since then, the airport has been stripped out and lain dormant, awaiting the next chapter in its history.
That last flight came just months after the bombshell announcement from owners Peel that the airport – at one time the former RAF Finningley air base – was closing because it was unprofitable.
Following the announcement in the summer of 2022, the city’s three MPs, mayor Ros Jones, South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard all swung into action and a huge public campaign was launched to try and save it.
But ultimately, despite efforts across the board, Peel pulled up the shutters in late November 2022, just weeks after that last flight.
Since then, the fight to re-open DSA has continued – and hopes continue to rise that the complex could soon soar again as City of Doncaster Council keeps up the search for a new operator.
Sadly, that news will come as little comfort to the airport’s 800 staff who have moved onto new ventures and new jobs.
In the lead up to the closure, workers posted emotional farewells to DSA which became an international airport after the transformation of the former RAF Finningley base two decades ago.
DSA opened in 2005 after the conversion of the RAF base and at its peak more than one million passengers a year flew to 50 destinations.
It was regularly voted the country's best airport. But in September 2022, after Wizz Air pulled all of its flight, Peel said DSA was ‘unviable’ and pulled the plug.
The airport's first commercial flight flew to Majorca, departing at 0915 on April 28, 2005.
Long haul flights to North America began in the summer of 2007 and in December 2009, EasyJet announced it would operate flights from Doncaster to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Faro, Palma de Mallorca and Prague. But the firm later withdrew in 2011.
In 2019, Flybe announced it would be closing its base and Wizz Air departed after a bitter row with airport chiefs.
But one year on, hopes remain that DSA will soar again.
Mayor Ros Jones says that negotiations to find an investor to lease the airport are still ongoing and has urged the public to “await accurate updates” amidst speculation circulating online as long term negotiations take place.
Earlier this year, the council agreed to begin a procurement period to find an investor to lease the site from Peel in order to reopen it.
The council aims to reach an agreement to lease the site for over 100 years so it can remain open long-term.
Mayor Jones said: “I know there’s significant public interest, and people, like me, want to see our great airport open again. I really do ask for patience to allow the work to take place. I do hope we can share some good news soon as we carry on the journey to reopen.”
The procurement stage to find an investor is due to run until March, after which the selected party will aim to reach an agreement with Peel.