A rise in economic migration from the Mediterranean, combined with the continuing arrival of workers from Eastern Europe could bring a double boost to Robin Hood Airport.
Sheffield University Management School researchers believe there is scope for airlines to launch new services to Spain and Southern Italy that would be attractive to holiday makers flying out and workers flying in.
They also believe that there is an unmet demand for flights to the Slovak capital of Bratislava and more destinations in Poland than those already being served from Robin Hood by the fast expanding Polish low cost airline Whizz Air.
“There is an emerging Slovak community, similar to the Polish community, with unskilled workers coming as a result of recent EU integration,” says the Management School’s Dr Andrea Genovese.
“There is also emerging Spanish migration, with quite a lot of people coming to the UK to work as a result of the Spanish economic crisis. The same is true of Italy, too, for similar reasons.
“In the case of Spain and Italy it tends to be more skilled labour – people with degrees, who are in demand.”
Dr Genovese says travel demand from immigrants to the UK has grown and grown and the fact that Robin Hood has been able to attract Whizz Air, which operates flights to a number of Polish cities from Doncaster has had a major impact.
“Doncaster has become a major hub for people in the UK travelling to and from Poland,” he says.
“It is a kind of centre of gravity that is considered to be close to London because of the fast train connection and that has made it very popular with Polish people working here and people coming to visit them.
Dr Genovese highlights Barcelona and Valencia in Spain, Naples in Italy, Krakow in Poland and Bratislava in Slovakia as key destinations Robin Hood should be encouraging carriers to fly to.
He says demand for flights to Barcelona is extremely high and it is a major hub for air travel as well as being a holiday destination and convenient for economic migrants.
Meanwhile, Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, lacks links to the north of the UK, as does the region of Andalucia.
There is also high demand and a lack of frequent flights to Naples and Bratislava, while the demand for flights to Krakow is only moderate, but Poland’s second largest city could easily be added to Whizz Air’s Doncaster portfolio.
According to Management School researchers part of the demand comes from members of the families of economic migrants who want to visit as well as from UK tourists wanting to visit Eastern Europe.