An airport should attract users and make a profit

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South Yorkshire had been an aviation ‘black hole’ for many years until the opening of Sheffield City Airport in 1997.

Until then, airlines had served the South Yorkshire market from airports at Manchester, East Midlands and Leeds-Bradford.

Although Sheffield is a large city, it is not big enough to generate such large passenger numbers. And airports at Manchester, Nottingham (ie East Midlands Airport) and Leeds/Bradford meant that any new South Yorkshire airport would find it very hard to attract passengers from these cities.

A South Yorkshire airport would therefore have to survive on traffic from a relatively small catchment area.

This meant that it would need to keep its costs down by being relatively small and have to be easily accessible.

Sheffield City Airport offered a solution to this – conveniently just outside Sheffield city centre, it was capable of accepting regional airliners and business jets.

Unfortunately, Sheffield City Airport opened at a very difficult time in the aviation industry – the 9-11 attacks happened while it was trying to establish itself.

It also had to face preconceptions about the newly-emerging low-cost airlines and their perceived impact upon the industry, combined with the opening of Robin Hood Airport on the site of RAF Finningley.

Sheffield City Airport was/is better-located and more appropriately-sized than Robin Hood Airport.

I think most people would agree that air links, like road and rail links, are beneficial to a city (particularly its commercial activities).

An airport should be able to attract users and make a profit by doing so.

In South Yorkshire, Sheffield City Airport offers the best chance of ticking both these boxes.

Michael Wood

Crown Hill, Seaford