Airport request to ministers falls on deaf ears

SOUTH Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard has received a lukewarm response from the government in his bid to keep Doncaster Sheffield Airport airport.

Mr Coppard said he had written to ministers asking them to step in after operators Peel announced a “strategic review” into the facility.

But three weeks on, aviation minister Robert Coutts sought to shift the emphasis away from government intervention and urged Mr Coppard to take responsibility over its future.

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Mr Coutts said: “The review into the future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport will be deeply concerning for residents of South Yorkshire, including passengers, those who work at the airport and businesses that provide services to it.

“However, it is important to recognise that, whilst the UK government supports airports, it does not own or operate them.

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

Mr Coutts referred to a £161m government package of support to the aviation industry during the pandemic, along with points on how Tees Valley Combined Authority purchased Teesside Airport back in 2018 to “secure its long term aviation future” — and how Mr Coppard can do the same.

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He added: “This model — where a local mayor of a combined authority brings together all the relevant parties and creates a solution — is one that I strongly suggest that you, as the relevant tier of government and with the local responsibility, seriously consider.

“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 stakeholders to explore options for a continued, strong aviation future for the airport.

“Government will remain in close contact with the airport and local partners as this review is carried out and supported wherever possible.”

Mr Coppard said demanded the government play a more prominent role.

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He said: “I’ll accept no lectures from this government about taking responsibility.

“I’ve said from the start we’ll do everything we can here in the region to keep operations going at DSA.

“We’ve made it clear to Peel we want operations to continue at DSA.

“We’ve set up a working group to explore all the options for safeguarding the future of DSA, including the option of public sector investment.

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“We’ve spoken to the aviation sector about what’s going on at DSA and what a possible future might look like for our airport.”

“What we really need is the government sitting round the table in our working group with Peel.

“We’ll lead those negotiations, but we need a willing partner in government to play their part too.”




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