Peel Group to close no longer viable Doncaster Sheffield Airport
The battle to save Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) has failed, with the UK gateway now set to wind down after October 31 after the owners confirmed that it was no longer economically viable.
Owners, the Peel Group, admitted earlier this year that the airport might close after Wizz Air’s decision to withdraw operations at DSA, and today announced that this was the case due to a “fundamental lack of financial viability”.
It notes that the wider Peel Group will now concentrate its efforts on the “significant development and business opportunities” on DSA’s adjoining GatewayEast development.
It says that the GatewayEast deal will create hundreds of new jobs and delivering further economic investment in the region, but that will be scant consolation for the 800 airport workers facing unemployment soon as a result of the decision to shut DSA.
Robert Hough, chairman of Peel Airports Group, which includes Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: “We recognise that this will come as a great disappointment to many. The intractable problem remains the fundamental and insufficient lack of current or prospective revenue streams, together with the airport’s high operating costs.
“Our employees have always been DSA’s greatest asset, and we are grateful to them all, past and present, for their dedication and diligence over the years. The immediate priority remains to continue engaging closely with them over the next few weeks.
“As such, DSA will now begin a formal process of consulting with team members. We will do everything we can to minimise the impact of these proposals and work closely with local authorities and agencies to support our employees through what we know will be an extremely difficult period.
“DSA has remained in contact with union representatives on site throughout and we are committed to ensuring they are updated through every step of this next phase.”
Peel Group chief executive, Steven Underwood, said: “We recognise that we are living in uncertain times, and we understand that our announcement will be difficult to hear for the Doncaster and wider South Yorkshire communities in which we have worked and invested for over two decades.
“However, as has been seen many times before in industries undergoing structural change, although change brings uncertainty it can also bring significant opportunity.
“As the Strategic Review concludes, we look forward to collaborating with our partners to create a vibrant, long-term vision for GatewayEast and the airport site.
“We will not accept any public sector grant to cover the costs of an airport that is not viable due to its lack of adequate forward revenues and high operating costs. Accepting funds from SYMCA may postpone the inevitable for another thirteen months, but it will divert funds away from services on which communities throughout South Yorkshire rely.
“Instead, we intend to continue working closely with local and national stakeholders to develop a forward-thinking strategy for the airport site, in conjunction with the £1.7 billion GatewayEast development next door, to help unlock vibrant, job-creating alternatives to ensure future growth and prosperity.
“We have the potential to attract cutting-edge, future-tech businesses to South Yorkshire, but only if we are able to collaborate with our local stakeholders and community in South Yorkshire.”