Robin Hood and the ‘Seven Cities of Italy’

Robin Hood Airport has announced two brand new routes for the 2010 holiday season, with Aer Lingus Regional flying to Dublin, and Newmarket Holidays, a major British tour operator, going to Italy.

Departing from the 5th September, the Italian route serves the ‘Seven Cities of Italy’ tour, taking in the sights around Lake Garda, the largest freshwater lake in Italy, the ancient cities of Rome, Venice and Verona and much more.

Tickets are pricy, at £759 per person, but the trip includes complimentary dinner and breakfast at two three-star hotels in the north of Italy. Airport bosses noted that the Seven Cities tour is just one of a series of holidays due to be offered by Newmarket at Robin Hood.

The Dublin route is more straightforward, representing a new partnership between Robin Hood Airport and Aer Lingus Regional, a franchise consisting of elements from Aer Lingus and Aer Arran, two popular regional airlines.

Dublin had been a popular destination for Yorkshire flyers until August 2009, when Ryanair refused to pay a €10 travel levy on all flights to Ireland. The airline then deserted Robin Hood altogether, taking an important route to Barcelona with it, and blaming escalating costs for its decision.

The route to Dublin, which will commence on the 28th March, has been hailed as a “major development for Irish aviation and the tourism industry” by Aer Arran boss, Paul Schütz. Robin Hood cited continuing hard work on the part of airlines and local airport staff as being the major factor behind the route.

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Robin Hood Stung by Budget Airline

Man arrested for Twitter rant

An angry Twitter user who joked about blowing up Robin Hood Airport has been arrested under anti-terrorism laws.

Paul Chambers was due to fly to Ireland from the Doncaster site, but faced a flurry of delays after cold weather brought the airport to a standstill. Angry, he logged into the Twitter website, and posted:

“The airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your s**t together; otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

Police were unimpressed, and Mr. Chambers was later arrested for conspiring to create a bomb hoax. He was questioned for seven hours, and forced to explain the Twitter concept to officers who had “never heard of it.”

Mr. Chambers has since been released on bail, but he could still be found guilty of transmitting a bomb threat when the case goes to court in February. The ‘bomber’ has also had his iPhone, laptop, and desktop computer confiscated.

Airport security operates on a hair trigger, and all threats are taken very seriously, however preposterous or unlikely they may seem. On the 9th January, three men were also arrested at Heathrow for shouting bomb threats at attendants.

Mr. Chambers has not been banned from Robin Hood Airport, despite the murmurings of the popular press, but bosses were keen to express their continued support of anti-terrorism laws, and of recent police action.

Just this morning, a police inspector helped subdue two men on a flight from Bulgaria to Robin Hood Airport, after their drunken tirades became frightening to other passengers.

EasyJet to launch flights from Robin Hood Airport

EasyJet has announced that it will soon be launching a number of new flights from Robin Hood Airport. The move is expected to prove hugely popular for travellers in the region, and will provide a real boost to the small airport as well as increasing tourism to the region.

The new flights will commence in April 2010 and will operate to five destinations each week: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Faro, Prague and Palma. These are some of the most popular destinations in Europe and airport bosses are hoping that lots of people will take advantage of the new routes.

Robin Hood Airport only started operating in April 2005, making it the newest airport in the UK. The announcement of these new flights will be a huge boost as it will help the airport to grow and develop.

The five new EasyJet flights could see the airline carry an extra 300,000 passengers in its first year alone, which would see passenger numbers at the airport increase by a third. The flights are certain to be popular due to the tempting price tags attached to them, with many of them costing just £24.99 for a one-way flight.

Mark Whitworth, the chief executive of Peel Airports, which owns Robin Hood Airport, said that EasyJet had shown confidence in the airport by the size of its commitment. He also said that the announcement confirms that the airport will be “experiencing double-digit growth in 2010”.

It is especially welcome news due to the recent decision by Ryanair to stop running its flights to Dublin from the airport, which were used by 60,000 people each year.

See the Northern Lights – from Doncaster

From March 2010, intrepid flyers will be able to leave the grey streets of Doncaster behind and go in search of the Northern Lights, a spectacular phenomenon rarely seen outside the Arctic Circle.

Despite their unusual quality, the Northern Lights (otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis) are a common occurrence, created when charged particles in the Earth’s magnetic field encounter solar winds, forcing them to crash into gas atoms.

The resultant collision produces patterns of light, in a range of shapes and bright colours – green, yellow and red. Auroras occur often in the Polar Regions, where the Earth’s atmosphere is thinner, and less resistant to cosmic rays.

Created by tour operator, Omega Holidays, the Northern Lights route is designed to coincide with the March Equinox, a point in time when the aurora appears with increasing intensity, helping passengers get the most for their money.

The plane will depart from Robin Hood Airport at 9PM, travelling over Scotland to the bleak North Atlantic. Omega has made no promises about the aurora’s punctuality, however; a good twenty percent of customers may not see anything at all.

Armchair astronomers might recognise Omega’s expert of choice, the famous Pete Lawrence, a regular on the BBC’s, The Sky at Night, who will be on hand to answer any questions that customers may have.

With the festive season just around the corner, Robin Hood officials are keen to get their new toy under your Christmas tree. The three-hour flight costs in the region of £169.95, a pricey but unique stocking filler.

Robin Hood up for sale

The owners of Robin Hood Airport, Peel Airport Holdings, have confirmed that up to 49% of the South Yorkshire facility could face the saleroom, in an effort to fund a number of important construction projects.

Peel is one of the largest aviation companies in the UK, claiming assets of over £4.5bn, and the keys to four major international airports – Manchester, Liverpool, Durham Tees, and Doncaster-Sheffield. Whilst a sale may help Peel construct a new terminal at Liverpool Airport, it will do nothing for Doncaster-Sheffield, forcing many investors to question the group’s commitment to the beleaguered airport.

Peel has refuted claims that the sale is in response to flagging customer numbers at Robin Hood, but unless Doncaster council can improve transport links around the facility, the airport’s future remains uncertain.

Delays to the Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (FARRRS), a road that would provide a much-needed link to the M18 motorway, have exacerbated the airport’s plight, with many investors choosing to take their money elsewhere. Robin Hood Airport is simply too far away from major roads and population centres.

Following the closure of Sheffield Airport in 2008, aviation enthusiasts have come to question the financial viability of a South Yorkshire airport:

“Who is going to buy into Robin Hood Airport in the state it is in now?” Mike Moss, a Sheffield City campaigner, said, “Doncaster is losing more money than Sheffield Airport ever did. We could be left with no airport in South Yorkshire.”

On the bright side, the return of Polish airline, WizzAir, has been welcomed by airport staff. From July 2010, the carrier will begin offering two flights a week from Robin Hood to Wroclaw, Poland.

Motorway link hits £11m roadblock

A road linking Robin Hood Airport to the M18 motorway hit another snag last week, after officials revealed an £11.3m shortfall in funding.

The Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme – or FARRRS for short – is one of Robin Hood’s more ambitious construction projects, designed to boost airport revenue by more than £1bn a year.

Planning disputes have kept construction crews in limbo since August 2009, and many investors are concerned about the financial viability of the scheme. Yet more planning papers will be handed to the UK Cabinet Office in the coming weeks.

Councillors are desperate to push the FARRRS project through to completion, believing it to be a cure-all panacea, a strong hand to haul Doncaster out of the recession. The road could create over 14,000 jobs in the local area.

The UK government has earmarked £1.25bn for transport schemes throughout the Yorkshire area, but there is no guarantee that the prime minister will sympathise with Robin Hood’s plight. FARRRS could remain on the drawing board until 2013.

Since its opening in 2005, Robin Hood has become a staple of local newspapers, filling column inches with sad stories and depressing tales. The airport recently announced its worst year on record, losing 30% of its passengers in just a few months.

Robin Hood needs to secure the signatures of local executives to ensure the survival of the FARRRS project.

“Dialogue with developers has taken place to secure contributions,” explained Stephen King, planner for Doncaster Council. “The certainty of contributions needs to be resolved before the business case can be submitted."

The UK Cabinet will not comment on the future of the FARRRS road until spring 2010.

Robin Hood stung by budget airline

An expansion of Ryanair services at Leeds Airport could have greater implications for Robin Hood Airport than expected, after the budget airline announced plans to axe all flights from the Doncaster site.

Earlier in the month, Peel Airports, the owner of the Doncaster facility, claimed to be unconcerned by the expansion, believing that just four percent of local residents would choose Leeds Airport over Robin Hood.

Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, blamed escalating travel costs for the cull, which saw Robin Hood lose a lucrative St. Patrick’s Day flight to Dublin, and summer routes to Barcelona.

The airline has declined to reinstate winter flights to Dublin unless the government takes steps to remove a €10 travel levy affecting all flights to Ireland. Other routes, including those to Barcelona and Alicante, are expected to return in summer 2010.

O’Leary, famed for his foul-mouthed rants, might have a difficult time convincing Peel Airports of his tight pockets, after his company added fourteen new flights to Edinburgh, and expanded operations at Leeds, Düsseldorf, and Madrid.

The news could devastate Robin Hood’s survival attempts – with a major M18 link road still incomplete, the airport stands to lose a good chunk of its customer base. Dublin was similarly affected, losing ten percent of its foreign traffic in just one month.

Nick Smillie, sales director for Robin Hood Airport, expressed his disappointment at Ryanair’s decision, but remained optimistic, drawing attention to three new TUI routes to Lanzarote, and a popular WizzAir flight to Poland.

Peel Airports has begun prospecting for a replacement flight to Dublin. As of the 25th August, the holding company has yet to find a suitor.

Airport success hinges on motorway link

A controversial planning system, widely blamed for Robin Hood’s continuing woes, is due to face the firing squad, after a report revealed that the South Yorkshire facility could lose over £1bn in investment and employment opportunities.

The Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (FARRRS) is an important road link capable of delivering heavy industry from the M18 motorway. As of August 2009, it remains unfinished, stuck in a strange state of limbo between the drawing board and the construction site.

According to Doncaster’s Chamber of Commerce, the completion of FARRRS would usher in a new era of prosperity for the local area, hauling Doncaster from recession, and burying fears about the viability of the Robin Hood site.

The Chamber went on to criticise government guidelines, which contribute over three thousand pages of protocol, but lack coherent frameworks for the development of critical infrastructure projects like the FARRRS route way.

“The planning process involved in a scheme of this magnitude could lay down sufficient obstacles to heavily delay or even halt the scheme” Chamber representative, Stephen Shore said.

Local investors are understandably vexed, believing the road to be an important facet of Doncaster’s future. If completed, FARRRS could provide 14,000 new jobs, and plough billions of pounds into the local economy.

Plans to construct an inland port – a huge container farm on the outskirts of Doncaster – could also be derailed by opaque planning procedures. Based in Rossington, the 180-hectare site would handle freight in cooperation with the nearby airport.

Opened in April 2005, Robin Hood Airport handles an average of one million customers a year.

The Unknown Airport

Robin Hood Airport is no stranger to tumultuous skies. The young facility has endured budget cuts, sweeping redundancies, and now, as the British summertime draws to a soggy conclusion, a revelation that may crush the airport for good.

Despite filling column inches with endless crises, a recent survey has revealed that very few people are aware that Robin Hood Airport actually exists – a bitter pill to swallow for beleaguered owners, Peel Airports.

Established in April 2005, Robin Hood Airport has floundered in obscurity. The only motorway access point remains incomplete, and a Master Plan drafted in late 2008 has failed to provide the cure-all panacea that council bosses had expected. Airport officials are now pinning all their hopes on a huge leafleting campaign.

Householders in Doncaster, Hull, and Sheffield have been bombarded with promotional material – 200,000 leaflets, and 50,000 A5 booklets.

Nick Smillie, sales director at the airport, lamented the recent news: “we have worked hard over the past four years to raise the profile of the airport to both passengers and airlines.” Mr. Smillie emphasised the promotional nature of the marketing campaign, refusing to accept that local residents were unaware of the airport’s existence.

Doncaster council has pledged to improve the quality of road signage leading up to the site, but unless the airport can tempt local people away from their computer screens and the rainy weather, Robin Hood is destined to join its namesake in the history books.