Business flights to airports worldwide

Flybe chief executive Saad Hammad, right,  shakes on the deal with Steve Gill of Doncaster Sheffield Airport
Flybe chief executive Saad Hammad, right, shakes on the deal with Steve Gill of Doncaster Sheffield Airport
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Businesspeople will finally be able to fly from Doncaster Sheffield Airport to hundreds of destinations worldwide under a new deal with Flybe.

The deal - two jets based at the airport flying to eight destinations - includes a major first: flights to two international hubs in Europe, opening up connections across the globe.

Flybe Embraer jet

Flybe Embraer jet

Business is expected to account for half the ticket sales.

An airport spokeswoman said the new hub routes were being established, in part, due to surveys which showed high demand from bosses.

The new flights will start in March.

The deal, up to 44 extra flights a week to eight destinations which will be announced on November 10 - helps fix an expensive problem for Flybe.

Chief executive Saad Hammad ordered 14 surplus aircraft to be grounded in April 2014 because they were deemed too big for their routes.

The drastic action, code named Project Blackbird, cost the firm £26m in keeping the planes airworthy and paying their leases in its first year.

Now, Flybe has announced the project is complete, after five jets were handed back to lessors, two went to Cardiff, one at Exeter, one at Newquay, three at Birmingham and Manchester and two at Doncaster. It comes just days before Flybe’s half-year results are due to be published on November 10.

A Doncaster Sheffield Airport spokeswoman said Flybe had held out for the best deal for its jets.

She added: “They had a lot of options, the could have sub let the aircraft to another airline. But what they wanted was to operate them in the UK from an airport where they didn’t currently operate and grow their brand and market share.

“There were other airports bidding but we were the only one that could deliver a new catchment of 1m people

“It requires considerable investment from Flybe but it’s assessed all its options and chosen Doncaster.”

Richard Wright, chief executive of Sheffield Chamber, said: “This is the type of development we have been looking forward to and fully justifies the decision to focus on one regional airport because it builds the critical mass and critical turn over the facility needs. “Feedback from businesses is that we need a good local airport with good international connections for both passengers and freight. The fact that companies like 512 are opening offices at DSA to manage their freight shipments shows that the activity is growing.

“Recently we had regular flights to Dublin introduced. We will soon have FARRRS and now we will have the introduction of these flights which include international hubs. Peel have made a long term commitment to DSA for which we are grateful and its now up to the region to use the airport regularly and repay that commitment.”

Aer Lingus Regional flights from Doncaster to Dublin - with connections to five north American cities - were re-launched in April with the warning “use us or lose us again”.

Now, the airport says there has been “pleasing growth” in passenger numbers and they are looking at increasing the frequency - from five flights a week - and the number of onward connections.