Doncaster Sheffield Airport: ‘Peel can’t be forced to sell to anyone in particular’ says Mayor Coppard during DSA terminal visit

A new private operator is the best option to safeguard the future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport but the owners ‘can’t be forced to sell to anyone’ in particular, Mayor Oliver Coppard has said.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 29th July 2022, 5:26 pm

Speaking from the passenger-filled terminal, the under-threat site could close as owners Peel said it is ‘commercially unviable’.

Mayor Coppard, on a visit to the site on Thursday (July 28) to meet staff, said there ‘no reason’ why DSA couldn’t be a thriving airport.

But he reiterated the power was solely in Peel’s hands in what happened next to DSA. He added that political pressure on keeping the airport as a commercial operator to tourists would be a priority.

Passengers head to the check-in desk on their way into Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Credit: George Torr/LDRS

“We met with Peel to talk about what options are on the table to see if we could do a deal of some kind to keep the airport open – we’re going to keep on talking for as long as we can and as much as we can.

“What we know is that Peel has said that they think the airport isn’t commercially viable. From my perspective, I think what we need is another private airport operator here in Doncaster who can make it viable.

“We’ve got one of the longest runways in the country, we’ve got a brilliant terminal where you can drive straight up to it – there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a thriving airport in South Yorkshire.”

As passengers queued patiently to check-in, Mayor Coppard told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that discussions were ongoing with Peel’s representatives.

South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard speaks to airport staff in the terminal. Credit: George Torr/LDRS

This came on the back of news that Peel’s top boss, John Whittaker had finally responded to Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher through a letter. Although the Tory MP said its contents were ‘not positive’.

Mayor Coppard also ran a public meeting at Rossington Miners’ Welfare to answer questions from the public on the airport’s future later that evening.

“We’re going to work with Peel, but if we can’t get that deal done then we would like another operator to come in because our job is to keep this airport open and continue to fly passengers in and out,” Mayor Coppard added.

“I don’t own the airport – I can’t sell the airport so I can’t force Peel to sell it to anyone in particular but we have to work with them and we will continue to talk to anyone we can about the options that are in front of us.”

Passengers wait to check in for their flight to the Bulgarian beach resort of Burgas. Credit: George Torr/LDRS

One option the mayor has is to buy the airport from Peel itself. This follows what Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchan did in 2019 by securing the airport from Peel in a deal worth £40 million which also included the 819 acres surrounding the site.

But Mayor Coppard said buying DSA wasn’t as simple as that and South Yorkshire’s case is different to that in Teesside.

“We’re not ruling anything out but what I would say to what Ben Houchan has done in the North East is different to what’s happening here. Partly because the land that surrounded Teesside International was much greater than what we’ve got here – around 800 acres,” Mayor Coppard added.

“Ben has actually put a lot of public money into that airport and it doesn’t seem to be doing that well – I think they’ve lost around £14.8 million and lost their route to London Heathrow so what we’re saying is we want someone to come in who knows how to run an airport.

Holiday-goers on there way in to Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Credit: George Torr/LDRS

“Some of those big operators coming who can bend the market and make sure that airlines are coming to fly people across the world and to make this site work. They are the best people to run it and to make sure jobs and futures are safeguarded.”

Passengers wait for check-in. Credit: George Torr/LDRS
A view of DSA's terminal. Credit: George Torr/LDRS