Aviation minister urges local authority to protect Doncaster Sheffield airport

Aviation minister Robert Courts has appealed to the mayor of South Yorkshire to intervene to keep Doncaster Sheffield airport open.

In a letter to mayor Oliver Coppard, Courts indicated the government would not take an active role in protecting the airport from closure.

The future of the airport was thrown into doubt after its owner, the Peel Group, said the site “may no longer be commercially viable” following the announcement that Wizz Air will withdraw, leaving Tui as the only airline maintaining a base at the facility.

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In the letter, Courts urged Coppard to join with local parties to find a way to safeguard the airport’s future, as he conceded that “while the UK government supports airports, it does not own or operate them.

“That is in contrast to the position for devolved administrations, local and combined authorities, who frequently are shareholders in airports.”

He gave examples of Manchester, Birmingham and Luton airports, and said: “Most recently Teesside International Airport was acquired by the Tees Valley Combined Authority to secure its long-term future.

“This model – where a local mayor and combined authority brings together all the relevant parties and creates a solution – is one that I strongly suggest that you seriously consider”.

He then said he would “welcome” a meeting to discuss the matter further, and facilitate an introduction with the mayor of Tees Valley “so that South Yorkshire Mayoral Combine Authority can understand the approach that other mayors and combined authorities have taken in approaching public ownership of airports within their areas and to learn where those lessons may assist in the case of Doncaster Sheffield airport.”

Courts continued: “I would strongly encourage you to assemble a coalition of willing partners, both locally and nationally, to work with airline and aviation partners as well as local MPs, councillors, and other local stakeholders to explore options for a continued, strong aviation future for the airport.”

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