International links key to boost North

A Flybe departure from Doncaster Sheffield Airport  Picture: Chris Etchells
A Flybe departure from Doncaster Sheffield Airport Picture: Chris Etchells
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The North of England must go global to boost growth, a major new report states - with Doncaster Sheffield Airport at the centre of expansion plans.

The number of air passengers from the region could double to 75million by 2050 if international links where improved, according to the Independent International Connectivity Commission.

It says that while the North accounts for 25 per cent of the UK population, its seven airports handle just 15 per cent of all airport passengers in the UK.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport hit a record 1.2million passengers last year, but just 0.45 per cent of the total from UK airports.

The giant site at Finningley could handle more than 20million passengers-a-year.

The Commission, set up by Transport for the North, recommends that by 2050 some 90 per cent of long-haul passengers should be able to fly from the North to their destination, compared to just 50 per cent today.

Meanwhile better road and rail links to ports could boost the economy and ease pressure on the south coast.

John Cridland CBE, chair of Transport for the North, said: “Unlike in the South, where ports and airports are heavily congested, the North’s international gateways have unused capacity. By properly using resources we can boost the economy of the North and ease pressure on overloaded ports and airports elsewhere.

“We need to start promoting the North as a destination of choice, both to do business and to visit.

“It’s clear that the North’s ports and airports are key economic assets for the region, with nearly 40 million passengers flying out each year and around a third of all UK freight using northern ports.

“Yet we know that the lack of access is holding them back, with congestion on our roads and railways making it difficult for people and goods to reach international gateways.”

The report highlighted the Great Yorkshire Way to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, which opened last year, and cut the journey time from central Sheffield to 25 minutes.