Doncaster Sheffield Airport Strategic Review Announcement

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Forums4airports discusses the latest press release from Doncaster Sheffield airport where the airport questions the future of the airport. The owners of the airport, the Peel Group have announced they are looking at their options as the group has decided the airport is no longer viable as an operational airport. Here's the press release:

"The Board of Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) has begun a review of strategic options for the Airport. This review follows lengthy deliberations by the Board of DSA which has reluctantly concluded that aviation activity on the site may no longer be commercially viable.

DSA’s owner, the Peel Group, as the Airport’s principal funder, has reviewed the conclusions of the Board of DSA and commissioned external independent advice in order to evaluate and test the conclusions drawn, which concurs with the Board’s initial findings.

Since the Peel Group acquired the Airport site in 1999 and converted it into an international commercial airport, which opened in 2005, significant amounts have been invested in the terminal, the airfield and its operations, both in relation to the original conversion and subsequently to improve the facilities and infrastructure on offer to create an award winning airport.

However, 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 announcement on 10 June 2022 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 sq ft logistics and advanced manufacturing development on site, creating hundreds of new jobs and delivering further economic investment in the region.

Robert Hough, Chairman of Peel Airports Group, which includes Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: “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.”


DSA and the Peel Group pride themselves on being forward-thinking whilst prioritising the welfare of staff and customers alike. As such, no further public comments will be made whilst they undertake this engagement period with all stakeholders.
During the Strategic Review, the Airport will operate as normal. Therefore passengers who are due to travel to the airport, please arrive and check in as normal. If there are any disruptions with your flight, you will be contacted by your airline in good time.
For all press enquiries, please contact Charlotte Leach at [email protected]."

"Not great news for DSA or the region"

Should the government or local council foot the bill and provide a financial subsidy to keep the airport open, thoughts...?
 
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I agree LBA didn’t get much more with TUI. I was wondering at the time if they’d consider a base again but didn’t. Even the routes that LBA was gifted most of those are to be done by another operator (freebird)

But something’s better than nothing. I think if DSA did reopen then TUI would likely go back but not sure weather Wizz would.
 
Realised I posted my latest in the General thread in error. In summary, DMBC seriously considering the lease and having their legal team scrutinising the option at the minute. Questions over whether sub-leasing to an airport operator is possible? Still a chance in my view that it may reopen this year or next if this goes ahead. Problem will be attracting the airline back, Wizz won’t return I wouldn’t have thought so it would rest on TUI. From what I gather airlines with little presence in Yorkshire and the East Midlands like easyJet are not pursuing any expansion strategies so there is unlikely to be any significant new uptake. Ongoing cost of living crisis and the very likely economic downturn and lethargic recovery will also prove to be a difficult time for aviation in general, let alone an airport that has failed to gain any reasonable ground.

I hope the Doncaster tax payers don’t see vital funds diverted to this. Common sense must prevail, surely?
I suspect that Ms Jones is looking enviously at the money being poured into Teesside which according to 'another forum' is thriving! Sadly it isn't. They will lose their based Loganair aircraft (moving to Newcastle) which covered Belfast and Dublin in March due to 'lack of passenger demand'. I suspect the incentive offered by the airport may be ending. The money being poured in is from a Regional Regeneration fund which the council are choosing to spend a proportion of on the airport which they sold to Peel for £500,000 and bought back for £40 million. (!!!) It is unfortunately losing millions at the moment but they are setting out their stall to do freight having invested in a £2.5 million freight shed and I understand employed the main freight guy from DSA. Good luck to them. Of course Doncaster Council have no such pot of regeneration money so everything they invest (and lose) if the airport reopens is likely to be rate-payers money. My gut feeling is that it's a dangerous game gambling huge sums of rate-payers money to re-open an airport who's core business is likely to be a few holiday flights if they can 'buy' a TUI return which in the short term is unlikely to generate much (if any) profit.
 
I agree LBA didn’t get much more with TUI. I was wondering at the time if they’d consider a base again but didn’t. Even the routes that LBA was gifted most of those are to be done by another operator (freebird)

But something’s better than nothing. I think if DSA did reopen then TUI would likely go back but not sure weather Wizz would.
I expect TUI are holding out expanding into ‘new’ territory until they see what happens with DSA. They will be hoping DSA reopens as they had a reasonable and uncontested operation from there. Should it not reopen then they may want to expand into LBA. I think Wizz will have agreed a contract with LBA now so it may not be so easy to get them back. Of course this is all academic, the council would be foolish to take on a leasehold when they have no airport operating knowledge.
 
I expect TUI are holding out expanding into ‘new’ territory until they see what happens with DSA. They will be hoping DSA reopens as they had a reasonable and uncontested operation from there. Should it not reopen then they may want to expand into LBA. I think Wizz will have agreed a contract with LBA now so it may not be so easy to get them back. Of course this is all academic, the council would be foolish to take on a leasehold when they have no airport operating knowledge.
I dont think contracts are taken seriously by Wizz.
 
I suspect that Ms Jones is looking enviously at the money being poured into Teesside which according to 'another forum' is thriving! Sadly it isn't. They will lose their based Loganair aircraft (moving to Newcastle) which covered Belfast and Dublin in March due to 'lack of passenger demand'. I suspect the incentive offered by the airport may be ending. The money being poured in is from a Regional Regeneration fund which the council are choosing to spend a proportion of on the airport which they sold to Peel for £500,000 and bought back for £40 million. (!!!) It is unfortunately losing millions at the moment but they are setting out their stall to do freight having invested in a £2.5 million freight shed and I understand employed the main freight guy from DSA. Good luck to them. Of course Doncaster Council have no such pot of regeneration money so everything they invest (and lose) if the airport reopens is likely to be rate-payers money. My gut feeling is that it's a dangerous game gambling huge sums of rate-payers money to re-open an airport who's core business is likely to be a few holiday flights if they can 'buy' a TUI return which in the short term is unlikely to generate much (if any) profit.
SYMCA Mayor has same access to devolution funding as the TVCA Mayor has for Teesside.
The way that it sounds is just DMBC is being left to go it alone rather in partnership with SYMCA.
But it is a case of making a realistic business case and putting it forward to access and release the funds, that is what TVCA Mayor done.
The difference with Teesside is that the full freehold was purchased, so if unsuccessful could be sold off for development if didn't work out. In DSA's case it is leasehold, which may impact a business case as they have nothing to sell on if it fails, so this could be the sticking point.
 
Even if the decision was taken to re-open DSA, there's the small matter now of recruiting all over again ATC, and presumably, ground handling staff (Swissport).
Swissport have only recently had to let go or relocate their DSA staff, so I wouldn't think they would be so happy at bring approached to re-open their operation at DSA so soon after shutting it down. . They are still struggling to get up to required staffing levels at other airports so starting from scratch at DSA may be a problem.
I also wonder how many people would risk a relocation to go and work at DSA after all that has happened. That includes people who are capable of running an airport business. Ros Jones certainly isn't and capable airport directors aren't ten a penny and dont come cheap. Taking on the DSA job would be a huge career risk.
 
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Radio silence from Ros Jones this week so far. Nick Fletcher posted an update to the effect that he has been updated by Baroness Vere, talks have not progressed with potential buyer. Conservative opposition in DMBC have asked about costs with regards leasehold and no answer given by their Finance Cabinet member. Presumably because they don’t know/it’s a huge amount.

Also heard that there has been visitors from other airports buying up fixtures and fittings and other equipment this week. Doesn’t look like a company that are poised to sell an airport.
 
A source claiming to be close to Ros Jones has mentioned elsewhere that there is absolutely no appetite from DMBC to take on the leasehold of DSA and she is just playing to the crowd. Nick Fletcher MP issues a rather vague post on Friday which reading between the lines suggested the fight to save the airport is all but lost.

HGV’s pulling up to the terminal today, presumably being loaded with the equipment that has been sold to other airports.
 
Update from Nick Fletcher following a meeting with DMBC this morning. To summarise, Robert Hough from Peel is on holiday so couldn’t attend. Ros Jones ominously absent and the meeting was held on Zoom and sounds like it was a PowerPoint presentation delivered by DMBC appointed lawyers. Nick hasn’t mentioned specifics but is ‘more optimistic’ than he was before about saving the airport. Strange that Ros Jones didn’t bother to attend the meeting.

Meanwhile, Humberside Airport fire service have been down to DSA to eye up various bits of equipment including the fire trucks themselves. LBA appear to have bought some equipment as have another airport that were wanting to buy some runway clearing equipment.
 
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