Government minister urges South Yorkshire mayor to ‘seriously consider’ public control of Doncaster Sheffield Airport

A Government minister has urged South Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard to ‘seriously consider’ bringing Doncaster Sheffield Airport into public ownership.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 6:13 pm

Aviation minister Robert Courts, in a letter to Mayor Coppard, said following Teesside’s approach in 2019 could be an option moving forward.

Owners Peel said back in July that DSA could close due to it not being ‘commercially viable’. They blamed Covid-19 and the relocation of Wizz Air and their base for their northern operations.

Mayor Coppard has said that a new private operator would be the preferred option moving forward but said that ‘no option was off the table’.

Aviation minister Robert Courts, in a letter to South Yorkshire mayor Coppard, said following Teesside’s approach in 2019 could be an option moving forward.

Ministers are said to be ‘in close contact’ with Peel Group to ‘understand its plans’.

Ministers are said to have met both with Peel and the airport representatives to ‘strongly express their view’ that from the strategic review, it leads to a ‘viable thriving aviation future for the airport’.

The letter also states Peel has been ‘urged to get around the table’ with interested parties to find a pathway to ‘preserving the future of the airfield, and to allow sufficient time for solutions to emerge’.

Mr Courts said: “It is important to recognise that, whilst the UK Government supports airports, it does not own or operate them.

“That is in contrast to the position for devolved administrations, local and combined authorities, who frequently are shareholders in airports. Notable examples include Manchester Airports Group, Birmingham Airport and London Luton Airport.

“Teesside International Airport was acquired by the Tees Valley Combined Authority to secure its long-term aviation future.

“This model – where a local Mayor and Combined Authority brings together all the relevant parties and creates a solution – is one that I strongly suggest that you, as the relevant tier of Government and with the local responsibility, seriously consider.”

In response, Mayor Coppard said: “I’ll accept no lectures from this government about taking responsibility. I’ve said from the start we’ll do everything we can here in the region to keep operations going at DSA.

“We’ve made it clear to Peel we want operations to continue at DSA. We’ve set up a working group to explore all the options for safeguarding the future of DSA, including the option of public sector investment.

“We’ve spoken to the aviation sector about what’s going on at DSA and what a possible future might look like for our airport, we’ve been talking to the wider private sector in SY about what they want and set up meetings with other Mayors and MPs.”