Major development in reopening of Doncaster Sheffield Airport

The plan to reopen Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) has moved one step closer to reality after the City of Doncaster Council gave the green light for the project.

In an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet held on September 20, mayor Ros Jones and her cabinet were told the airport is a “viable proposition” and could be “in profit within five years of reopening”.

The council aims to negotiate a 100-year lease for the site with its owner Peel Group. They will then find a private sector partner to operate the airport. A formal procurement process for an operator has now been initiated and the council hopes to conclude negotiations by March 2024.

“Informal market engagement has demonstrated that there is interest from multiple potential private sector organisations in reopening and operating the airport on a leasehold or freehold basis,” states a report presented at the meeting.

Dubbed South Yorkshire Airport City (SYAC), the programme to reopen the facility which closed last year includes the development of high value economic activity on the site including employment, retail and leisure, as well as returning aircraft to the sky.

The South Yorkshire complex had Wizz Air and TUI as its primary scheduled airline customers.
The South Yorkshire complex had Wizz Air and TUI as its primary scheduled airline customers. Doncaster Sheffield Airport

“Re-opening Doncaster Sheffield Airport is my number one priority, “said Ros Jones. “Finding a solution, that would mean so much to local communities and businesses and underline our ambition as one of the UK’s newest cities, is crucial.

“We are hopeful that a lease can be secured and look forward to working with interested parties in the reopening of the airport. We have already initially tested the market for those industry experts who can partner with us to get the airport reopened as soon as we can.

“If we get the lease agreed then reopening the airport will not happen overnight of course but it would be a huge step forward. Cabinet was certainly reassured by the tremendous amount of hard work that has happened to date and I would like to thank council staff who have been dedicated to the SYAC programme and their work continues.

“I do hope that we can share good news soon and continue the journey to reopen our airport.”

The report states the reinstatement costs to get the airport back up and running will be a “significant sum” and talks with potential investors so far suggest that the council will need to meet these costs in order to attract an investor.

While the preferred option is to obtain a lease for the site, the council has previously supported the option of a compulsory purchase order (CPO) if necessary. However, the use of CPO powers are a “means of last resort”.