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.