Cost and whether the current owners are prepared to countenance selling are the keys to any bid to reopen Sheffield City Airport.
Sustainability is an issue too, given that, when Sheffield City Airport was first conceived, the economics underpinning the project relied heavily on the money developers would earn from building the surrounding business park.
Whether the airport on its own could survive is a moot point.
And whether the current owners – who include Robin Hood Airport’s owners, Peel – could ever be persuaded to sell the site is even more open to question. Sheffield City Airport’s mystery bidder would not be drawn on the likely costs of reopening the airport, arguing that would compromise future negotiations with landowners and other parties.
However, the mystery bidder claims to have “significant corporate resources” and, depending on the outcome of any negotiations, says that costs might be covered through private funding.
Asked what would happen to commercial tenants occupying the airport’s terminal buildings and other essential airport facilities, the response was that tenants “might well welcome the opportunity to be rehoused in one of the other buildings being developed on the business park”.
As with the sale of the airport site, that would, of course, rely on the business park’s present owners being willing to play ball on the project.
The potential bidder is, however, confident that the airport would have no difficulty in getting a new licence from the Civil Aviation Authority.
The argument is that, since it is Government policy to support regional aviation and it is acknowledged that airports in the South-East were full to capacity, licensing issues are “not perceived to be a problem”. The bidder is also confident of being able to persuade Peel to allow Sheffield City Airport to reopen, even though the group was widely thought to have bought the airport in order to close it and avert any possible planning objections to development of Finningley.
The mystery bidder argues that Sheffield City Airport will operate in different markets and will complement Robin Hood by stimulating the local economy and creating new demand for long- haul and freight flights – neither of which would be provided by Sheffield.