Why did Doncaster Sheffield Airport close?

Doncaster Sheffield Airport
The airport never achieved a 'critical mass' of passengers, its owners said. Credit: Nick Fletcher

Flights from Doncaster Sheffield Airport wound down after the owners said the business was no longer viable.

Despite a campaign by politicians, the South Yorkshire metro mayor Oliver Coppard and residents, Peel Group pressed ahead with plans to close the airport following a strategic review in 2022.

Operators Tui and Wizz Air have already started shifting scheduled services to Leeds Bradford Airport.

The airport's operations will gradually be phased out in the coming days.

When was the final flight?

Airport staff shared an emotional video as Tui's final passenger flight – to Tenerife – left the airport on Friday evening, 28 October 2022.

Wizz Air's final flights, to Eastern Europe, took off on 30 October.

The company's last inbound service was a flight from Hurghada, Egypt, arriving at 9.15pm on Friday, 4 November. 

The final commercial service was a the Tui "positioning flight" to Manchester – for passengers catching a plane on to another destination – at 12.15am on 5 November 2022. 

The terminal remained available for passenger services until 7am on the same day, after which it closed.

Why did the airport close?

DSA opened in 2005 after it was converted by the Peel Group from the old RAF Finningley airbase.

At its peak it processed more than a million passengers a year, flying to 50 destinations.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, DSA was voted the UK's best airport by Which? magazine three years in a row.

In a statement in July 2022 Peel Group said that DSA had never achieved a "critical mass" of passengers to become profitable and this "fundamental issue of a shortfall in passenger numbers" was exacerbated by the announcement Wizz Air would no longer use it as a permanent base.

Wizz Air announced it was leaving the airport in June. Credit: PA

The firm said the "challenge has been increased by other changes in the aviation market, the well-publicised impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and increasingly important environmental considerations".

In September the same year, chairman of Peel Airports Group Robert Hough said: "The intractable problem remains the fundamental and insufficient lack of current or prospective revenue streams, together with the airport’s high operating costs."

The company rejected an offer of public money to keep the airport running for another year to allow time for a buyer to be found, saying it would only "postpone the inevitable".

The closure affected around 800 workers directly and hundreds more in the supply chain.

Sarah Barnes, of the GMB union, said at the time: "When the final flight leaves on Bonfire Night, hundreds if not thousands of people will see their future go up in smoke.  

"GMB members are furious, the people of South Yorkshire can’t allow it to happen."

What are customers' rights if a flight is cancelled?

Under UK law, if your flight is cancelled, your airline must let you choose between a refund and an alternative flight, no matter how far in advance of the scheduled departure date the cancellation was made.

You are entitled to a refund for any unused part of the ticket. For example, if you booked a return flight and the outbound leg is cancelled, you can get the full cost of the return ticket refunded.

If you still want to travel, your airline must find you an alternative flight. If another airline is flying to your destination significantly sooner, or there are other suitable modes of transport available, then you have a right to be booked onto that alternative transport instead.

What if you booked a package holiday?

If you booked a package holiday with a company that is a member of the professional body Abta and your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a suitable alternative flight or a full refund.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.