It has been announced that Doncaster Sheffield Airport is to close, potentially leaving 800 people jobless and landing a major blow to levelling up plans for the region.
Despite Prime Minister Liz Truss stating that he government would protect the airport and the infrastructure, due to regional airports being crucial to her plans of economic growth, the group that own the airport have state that it is no longer financially viable.
This comes despite local government leaders offering a package of financial support to ensure that the airport could remain operational into the new year, enabling the owners to open negotiations for potential investors.
Speaking about the support package when it was announced, South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said:
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to save our region’s airport. We’ve taken the initiative, gone out to the market and brought potential investors to the table, demonstrating that there is a viable future for DSA. But it has become clear that any deal to find a new owner or operator for DSA cannot be done in weeks.
“That’s why, over the past few days, we have made an offer to step in with financial support for DSA. This is not just about giving potential investors a sensible amount of time to put their proposals together, but also about protecting more than 800 jobs and providing certainty to customers, operators and our community at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
“Doncaster Sheffield Airport is an asset to Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and beyond. This is not a position any of us wanted to be in, but if [the owners] genuinely wanted to safeguard the future of DSA, they will accept our offer and allow more time for prospective offers to develop.”
The group that own the airport have since declined the offer of funding from the South Yorkshire Combined Authority, one that would have kept the airport running until October 2023, saying that the use of taxpayer money to keep it running “against the backdrop of an unviable, loss making operating business” would be inappropriate.
This news also comes following Coppard’s recent criticism of levelling up, when he mentioned the uncertain future of the airport alongside other transport means being central to the plans to level up the area. Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones said:
“If [the owner] is determined to follow this course of action then our immediate focus must be on supporting those 2,700 plus employee, staff, residents and businesses within Doncaster an beyond whose futures are now in jeopardy as a result of their actions.”