US flights restart as airport takes off

From left, Richard Wright, Ciara o'Connor, Peter O'Mara and Steve Gill.
From left, Richard Wright, Ciara o'Connor, Peter O'Mara and Steve Gill.
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Doncaster Airport has had a turbulent few years, but the relaunch of flights to Dublin – and onward to the US – proves it is finally taking off, bosses say.

A decision by Aer Lingus Regional to start a five-times weekly service is the best news the former Finningley air base has had for years.

A link to the Irish Republic starts on May 29, with a major added attraction – connections to North American cities: New York, Chicago, Boston and Toronto.

A pre-clearance system allows travellers to check in bags at Doncaster and clear US immigration in Dublin, potentially avoiding huge queues on arrival, according to Aer Lingus Regional business development director Peter O’Mara .

He said they were relaunching due to the economic recovery and “intensive” lobbying by the airport over three years.

The FARRRS link road – set to slash half an hour off the journey time from Sheffield – would be a nice add- on when it opens in January next year, he added.

“We have figures for the leakage of people from this region to other airports so we know there is a big market to target. We don’t know the dynamics of this area – but the airport does intimately and we have worked together as partners.

“It’s not a trial, we are here for the long term, but like any route it’s use us or lose us.”

The announcement comes four years after the airline axed the service due to the recession and the Icelandic ash cloud which grounded flights across Europe for weeks.

Now the airport is expected to show an eight per cent increase in passenger numbers in the year to April, to hit 760,000. It has announced seven new routes in the last year and hosts 12 airlines flying to 35 destinations.

Mr O’Mara added: “We have sufficient confidence in the region to do this now. The road will be critical to the airport. It will be a nice add on for us and we hope to add frequency and capacity on flights when it opens.”

Aer Lingus Regional is a franchise run by haulage firm Eddie Stobart. It will fly 72-seat ATR turbo-prop planes, bought last year, out of Doncaster.