Wizz Air withdrawal leaves future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport in balance
The Board of Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) in the UK has begun a review of strategic options for the airport after its Board “reluctantly concluded that aviation activity on the site may no longer be commercially viable”.
Airport owner, the Peel Group, has reviewed the conclusions of the Board and commissioned external independent advice in order to evaluate and test the conclusions drawn, which concurs with the Board’s initial findings.
The Peel Group acquired the airport site in 1999 and has since invested significant amounts on upgrading the terminal and airfield, changes which paved the way for it to be converted it into an international gateway in 2005.
However, passenger numbers have never really reached the levels that the airport thought that they would, and the future now looks bleak for the gateway.
It states: “Despite growth in passenger numbers, DSA has never achieved the critical mass required to become profitable and this fundamental issue of a shortfall in passenger numbers is exacerbated by the June 10th, 2022, announcement of the unilateral withdrawal of the Wizz Air based aircraft, leaving the airport with only one base carrier, namely TUI.
“This challenge has been increased by other changes in the aviation market, the well-publicised impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasingly important environmental considerations.
“It has therefore been concluded that aviation activity may no longer be the use for the site which delivers the maximum economic and environmental benefit to the region.
“Against this backdrop, DSA and the Peel Group, will initiate a consultation and engagement programme with stakeholders on the future of the site and how best to maximise and capitalise on future economic growth opportunities for Doncaster and the wider Sheffield City Region.
“The wider Peel Group is already delivering significant development and business opportunities on its adjoining GatewayEast development including the recent deal for over 400,000 square foot logistics and advanced manufacturing development on site, creating hundreds of new jobs and delivering further economic investment in the region.”
Peel Airports Group chairman, Robert Hough, noted: “It is a critical time for aviation globally. Despite pandemic related travel restrictions slowly drawing to a close, we are still facing ongoing obstacles and dynamic long-term threats to the future of the aviation industry.
“The actions by Wizz to sacrifice its base at Doncaster to shore up its business opportunities at other bases in the South of England are a significant blow for the airport.
“Now is the right time to review how DSA can best create future growth opportunities for Doncaster and for South Yorkshire. The Peel Group remains committed to delivering economic growth, job opportunities and prosperity for Doncaster and the wider region.”
The Peel Group, which states that its prides itself on being forward-thinking whilst prioritising the welfare of staff and customers, concluded by saying that no further public comments will be made whilst they undertake this engagement period with all stakeholders.
The airport will operate as normal whilst the Strategic Review is carried out.