Above: Reports that Wizzair were pulling out of Doncaster exacerbated concerns about the airport’s viability
The shock announcement that Doncaster Sheffield Airport may be forced to close due to concerns over profitability and the airport’s overall long-term viability has shocked many aviation industry analysts. News of Doncaster’s difficulties has shone an unwelcome spotlight on the long-term viability of many of Britain’s regional airports.
Although larger airports such as Birmingham, Gatwick and Heathrow are now seeing passenger numbers returning to around 80% of pre-pandemic levels (even despite well documented issues of long security queues, cancelled flights and lost luggage), smaller regional airports have not bounced back to anywhere near the same extent. In fact, many are only recording passenger levels of around 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
The parlous financial state of some regional aerodromes has been exacerbated by the termination of the Covid-19 airport subsidy scheme, which came to an end in January. In the case of Doncaster, local residents created a petition within hours of the announcement that the airport was slated for closure. It soon gathered over 75,000 signatures and is now among the most prominent petitions on Change.org.