Global airlines are seeing Doncaster Sheffield Airport in a new light thanks to massive growth, strong support - and The Star’s campaign to promote it.
Chris Harcombe, head of aviation development, said in the last week an international operator had spoken to him “quite differently” following a stream of good news.
Global hub operators - such as BA, Lufthansa, Air France and KLM - are seen as the next step in the airport’s development. They run frequent services in and out of their home bases, on one ticket and with well timed onward connections.
DSA enjoyed 48 per cent growth last year, compared to a UK average of eight per cent. The Star’s campaign has also highlighted the unanimous support of Sheffield City Region’s leaders, and hundreds of businesses and holidaymakers.
The paper also broke the story of McLaren’s £50m move into the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District.
It was an inward investment deal that would build confidence among airlines, Chris said.
He added: “Airlines are starting to acknowledge we are having an impact. They are talking to us differently. It’s a slow burn but they are definitely paying more attention.
“I had a conversation with a global hub operator in the last week and their view of us is changing. We are delivering on a long held promise.
“A new airline is an inward investment, it’s easy for us to tell them about the 6m people living within 60 minutes’ drive but they need to have confidence this region is going places. So it’s about bringing things in like McLaren.”
It’s understood another international manufacturer is about to announce plans to establish a factory in Sheffield, further bolstering the region and the airport.
The upbeat story started with the opening of the Great Yorkshire Way last year, which slashes the journey time to Sheffield city centre to 25 minutes.
DSA could reach 2.5m passengers-a-year in the next five years, Chris believes, and 5m within the next decade - the threshold for long haul operators such as Etihad, in Abu Dhabi and Emirates, in Dubai. No airport in Yorkshire currently has long haul services.
It is believed it could reach 8m passengers-a-year as it is - but plans to divert the East Coast Mainline into a station on the site - and do the the same with the Sheffield-Lincoln line, could see it soar to 25m.
Chris added: “We have delivered huge growth for three years, so there’s something good happening here.”
Airport bus is booming
A new shuttle bus to Doncaster Sheffield Airport has been used by 40,000 people since its launch in September.
The X4 from Doncaster Interchange takes just 22 minutes.
The airport can be reached on public transport from Sheffield in 50 minutes, via a train to Doncaster, according to SYPTE boss Stephen Edwards.