December 25, 2022 8.00 am This story is over 16 months old

Flashback 2022: Lincolnshire’s wings clipped by Doncaster Sheffield Airport closure

Petitions, public funds and politicians couldn’t save it

By Local Democracy Reporter

One of 2022’s longest-running sagas came in the form of Doncaster Sheffield Airport’s closure. as Lincolnshire residents lost a popular local holiday route and hundreds of jobs were affected.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport has been a handy holiday travel route for Lincolnshire residents ever since it opened as a commercial airport in 2005 – but it would soon face turmoil.

DSA fell to the brink of collapse in July 2022 after airline Wizz Air announced it would cease operations from the airport – opting to bolster offerings in the south  of the country.

A Wizz Air flight from Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Owners the Peel Group called a six-week consultation review to engage with stakeholders over the future of the site.

Peel Group argued that while Doncaster Sheffield Airport saw a steady growth in passenger numbers as the world opened up again post-COVID lockdown, it was never seen as commercially or financially viable.

It concluded that DSA “never achieved the critical mass required to become profitable” and owners said “aviation activity may no longer be the use” for the site.

The news was not well-received in the community. A petition calling for the airport to be saved tipped over 106,000 signatures, and two Greater Lincolnshire MPs joined a campaign calling for a u-turn on the closure.

Public funding was offered to the airport in order to cover losses until the end of October 2023, a proposed date to help find new owners, but this was rejected by the Peel Group who deemed it an “inappropriate way to spend public money”.

TUI airline prepares for take off.

The GMB Union also took part in campaigning against the closure, calling rallies at Doncaster Marketplace in August before accusing the government of “passing the buck” over the airport’s collapse.

There was a glimmer of hope for the airport when the Peel Group extended the consultation period by an extra month, following pressure from politicians and the public alike.

Then-Prime Minister Liz Truss was asked about the looming closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport during her first Prime Minister’s Questions session, when she said the government would “make sure we do protect this airport” – though closure proved unavoidable.

In October, the GMB Union handed over the 100,000 signature strong petition to the Department for Transport, alongside former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

GMB Union members outside the Department for Transport on Thursday, handing over a 100,000 strong petition to save Doncaster Sheffield Airport. | Photo: GMB Union

The protests and uproar fell on deaf ears, as the owners of DSA wound down the site’s operations by the end of October, and the final ever flight from the airport took place on November 4.

The site is thought to have employed more than 800 people and created a further 2,700 jobs in the supply chain – all of which have been affected in some capacity.

Since the closure, Wizz Air has moved its operations to Leeds Bradford Airport, and DSA’s last remaining airline carrier TUI has redeployed aircraft to various airports across the country.

Teeside International Airport is one of the sites to benefit from this, welcoming its first cargo flights from the 10,000 tonnes of freight that used to pass through Doncaster Sheffield Airport on Thursday, December 15.

Large aircraft used to use Doncaster Sheffield Airport to transport bulk cargo, but some of that load will now be handled in Teeside after the Peel Group’s decision to close DSA.

Lincolnshire’s closest airports are now Humberside International Airport and East Midlands Airport, which sit 30 and 50 miles from Lincoln respectively.

MyLocal Lincolnshire is the new home of The Lincolnite. Download the app now