Last year was one of the worst on record for the aviation industry; few months were left unblemished by chaos. Fog delayed flights, volcanoes blackened European skies, and the recession ate airlines at an unprecedented pace. Then, just as chief executives thought the worst was over, snow began to fall on roads, roofs, and naked trees, forcing closures at the vast majority of UK airports.
Edinburgh Airport, for example, was shut down 8 times in just over two months, while Southampton Airport is alleged to have lost almost a quarter (22%) of its festive passengers due to snow and ice. Doomsayers would have been justified in predicting a shaky start to 2011, but officials at Doncaster’s Robin Hood Airport have revealed that the conditions facing the aviation industry are not as dismal as expected. The Yorkshire hub achieved growth of 5% during 2010, quite a feat for an airport that has historically struggled to stay open during clement conditions.
According to Civil Aviation Authority figures, Penzance Heliport and Scatsta Airport in the Shetlands also had a productive year, increasing annual traffic by 4.1% and 3.5% respectively. Leeds, Belfast City, Liverpool, and Bristol were the only other hubs in the UK to post growth in 2010. Plymouth Airport, on the other hand, lost almost 40% of its annual traffic, as beleaguered airline, Air Southwest, announced plans to downsize its operation at the Devon hub. Cardiff, Newquay, and Durham airports have also found themselves without enough fingers to count their losses on.
Mike Morton, chief at Robin Hood Airport, said that the traffic boost, equating to an extra 43,781 people overall, was “fantastic news” for the hub. Whether Doncaster can continue its run of good luck into 2011 is debatable, but the hub’s prospects have improved drastically since the addition of new routes to Faro, Portugal, and Tenerife in the Canary Islands, courtesy of budget airline, Ryanair. The airport claims that the two flights could lure an extra 60,000 annual travellers to the former RAF base.
Robin Hood Airport handled 37,513 passengers during December 2010 and 895,136 flyers over the whole year.