Representatives from the airport presented their concerns to a government minister, suggesting the implementation of an island policy
Airport representatives from Doncaster Sheffield (DSA) spoke to the parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Transport, Robert Courts, regarding the impact of travel restrictions on the aviation industry.
The DSA leadership team – including Damian Allen, chief executive of Doncaster Council, Robert Hough, leadership team member of DSA and Don Valley MP, Nick Fletcher – outlined the difficulties faced throughout the pandemic. They mentioned how the government schemes, such as furlough and the ground operations support initiative have been vital.
However, the group also stressed how the sector needs extra support due to the limited number of countries on the green list, including the absence of important holiday destinations.
“The minister appeared to have an appreciation of the current situation in terms of travel, but yesterday’s announcement was very disappointing,” explained Robert Hough. “Faro was the only green list destination operating from DSA and we were hopeful that the list of viable leisure destinations would grow, not decrease.
“This demonstrates the importance of the need for clarity and transparency around the guidance for travel for our passengers. There was no warning about the changes made to Faro, despite previous promises about a ‘green watchlist’. The whole travel industry desperately needs more engagement and support from government to safely get passengers back in the air once more.”
Dawn Wilson, managing director for TUI Airways also joined the team to discuss the possibility of introducing an island policy. If put in place, this would allow destinations to be added to the restriction-free list whilst mainland locations remain amber.
As the airport serves seven islands across Greece and Spain, this strategy would enable the hub to offer almost 60% of its summer schedule.
Currently, DSA has just 42 amber list destinations which cannot keep up with the growing demand.
The minister was also updated on the airport’s latest plan for GatewayEast, which is an employment district with the potential to provide up to 35,000 skilled jobs and create £6.5bn into the local economy by 2037.
“Our shared ambition is to develop a new innovation cluster with direct runway access focusing on future mobility, low carbon aviation and associated technologies such as innovation fuels, battery technology, electrification and light weighting technology,” said Damian Allen.
“The associated GatewayEast rail scheme is central to the project and would quadruple access to the airport growth hub for jobs and flights by a sustainable travel mode taking 23,000 tonnes of CO2 off the road network,” he concluded.
DSA believe that greater connectivity could unlock its economic potential, levelling up the northern hub.