Robin Hood’s tight pockets

Doncaster’s Robin Hood international airport is the second largest airport in Yorkshire but despite repeated attempts to obtain additional funds from the local council, the airport is currently facing hard times.

Robin Hood was opened in April 2005 at the expense of the decommissioned RAF Finningley airstrip. The airport was constructed as the centrepiece of a multi-million pound renovation project that saw the centre of Doncaster transformed into a haven for commerce and small businesses. Three years later and the young airport is at the centre of a great deal of controversy regarding its financial viability.

Peel Airports, the owners of Robin Hood, have been refused both tax relief and hardship funds by Doncaster council, sparking rumours that the company is unable to support prospective business and passengers. The single runway, which was originally constructed for long-range nuclear bombers, is currently running at 75% below capacity.

Doncaster’s freight and logistics sector have both ignored the airport, preferring instead to rely on traditional infrastructure and the international rail freight platform. Without the financial muscle of Doncaster’s burgeoning industrial areas, the airport suffered losses of almost £10 million in its first year. Council bosses are warning that if Peel Airports are unable to fill the coffers with their own money, their advertising budget will suffer. Perhaps more importantly, a failing business is of little value to the local government and Robin Hood may yet suffer the same fate as the nearby Sheffield City Airport, which was permanently closed earlier this year.

Robin Hood International has significant potential for expansion but unless the airport can attract an industrial cash-cow to its gates, its long-term future looks bleak.

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