Twenty five minutes – that’s all it takes.
Less than half an hour after climbing into my car in Sheffield city centre, I pull into a space in the car park of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, straight across from the terminal. Not bad, huh?
The terminal, which serves passengers for around 15 flights a day at this time of year, is surprisingly busy this Thursday morning. Two flights are getting ready to take off – Amsterdam and Tenerife – and I can see a lot of smiles. It makes me wish I’d brought my suitcase.
“We’ve had a fantastic year of growth where we saw more passengers than ever before fly from DSA,” says Chris Harcombe, head of aviation development at the airport, which opened its doors in the region in 2005.
“Thanks to the opening of the Great Yorkshire Way motorway link road last February, there are now 6.2 million people within an hour’s drive of the airport and 1.2 million chose to fly with us in 2016.
“Once passengers arrive at DSA they are able to park straight opposite the terminal. Last year we invested £200,000 in four state-of-the-art security machines which allow for quicker scanning of hand luggage and reduce the number of person searches required.
“On average, we now aim to process passengers through security within 10 minutes.”
It’s all rather impressive. And as the only airport east of the Pennines in the North that has the capability to be the size of Manchester, it’s no surprise that DSA is keen to attract the attention of South Yorkshire residents – and particularly Sheffielders – who are still choosing to head out of the region to fly from other areas.
After all, the new link road means our local airport is just 25 minutes from Sheffield city centre (I can vouch for this!) and it offers direct flights to 42 destinations – everywhere from Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, to Bucharest, Alicante and Gran Canaria.
But despite this, recent figures revealed Sheffield residents are still travelling to Manchester for around 50 per cent of all their flights. In Leeds and the East Midlands, about 40 per cent of people use their local airport for travel.
At Doncaster Sheffield Airport, the figure is between 15 and 20 per cent – something airport bosses are keen to rectify.
Chris nods: “We really want to change that, we’re keen to make 2017 the year that we solidify DSA in people’s minds as their ‘local and first choice’.”
This week The Star launched its #FlyDSA campaign to promote Doncaster Sheffield Airport – to help the region fly. We’re making it our mission to promote DSA as the first choice for millions of holidaymakers and businesses who, in turn, could pump billions into our own economy.
By changing hearts and minds, and banishing decades-old habits of travelling outside the region for a flight, we could attract more investment and business to our own city, rather than continue have it sent outside the region.
And we’re starting from a good place. An appeal on The Star’s Facebook page, for people who favour their local Doncaster Sheffield Airport, received dozens of responses.
Jai Lane said: “I’ve flown from Doncaster to Amsterdam and Ireland. It’s nice and small so you can arrive quite late and park right outside which is a massive bonus. Took us 40 minutes from Barnsley with the new bypass.”
Chris Barker said: “We like Doncaster as it’s smaller and more friendly. We’ve used it twice to fly to Lanzarote. Only 30 minutes from Barnsley.”
Car Wilsher said: “We choose Doncaster every time – 20 minutes from our house and straight through at the airport, no stress.”
Tracy Epton said: “I’ve travelled from Doncaster once – it was great to have just a short drive to the airport and convenient parking so close. I’d definitely use again.”
Mike Evans: “It’s closer to drive to and parking is great. It’s Doncaster every time for me.”
Tony Caddy said: “Donny every time. From landing to getting in the car, 15 minutes, then 20 minutes back to Sheffield.”
Carol Cooper said: “Lovely airport and only takes us 25 minutes to get there from Sheffield.”
Will Dowling said: “Very convenient from Doncaster.”
Julie Foster said: “20 minutes from Rotherham.”
Liz Fearn said: “Can use my bus pass from Sheffield!”