Half a million extra passengers a year can take off from Doncaster Sheffield airport as a major airline launches eight new routes.
The announcement that Flybe will deliver up to 44 extra flights per week from the airport - which is an increase of 70 per cent on current departure levels - from March 2016 has been hailed as ‘transformational’ for the region.
It is the biggest leap of its kind since the airport opened a decade ago and is to tie in with the opening of a new £58 million link road from junction three of the M18, which aims to slash journey times for passengers, early next year.
Steve Gill, managing director of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: “This announcement is transformational for Sheffield City Region’s airport.
“We are truly delighted to be welcoming Flybe in this new long-term deal.
“The additional seats and other forecasted growth are expected to take passenger figures from 900,000 in 2015-16 to over 1.35 million in 2016-17.”
The eight new routes, which will service both leisure and business destinations across Europe, will be confirmed next week.
Saad Hammad, chief executive of Flybe, said: “We are delighted to have reached this agreement to begin enhancing connectivity for the people of Yorkshire from Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
“We look forward to welcoming all our new passengers on board next year with great value fares and a convenient, fast, reliable service to some very popular destinations as well providing them with opportunities for onward connections.”
Improvements in transport and infrastructure are a key focus for the Sheffield City Region as part of its £900m in-principle devolution deal with Government, which will transfer powers from Whitehall to local authorities and is also set to bring in a directly elected mayor.
The Peel Company, the parent company of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, has identified 150 projects across its portfolio in the Northern Powerhouse and encouraged talks between businesses and Government to give the concept lift off.
James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said; “We are a city region of 2.1 million people and Sheffield is the UK’s fourth largest city.
“Connectivity to major European centres for trade and investment play a crucial role in the economic prosperity of the region.
“Investments such as this one will help to strongly position the Sheffield City Region as a key player in the Northern Powerhouse and will enable us to start to rebalance the UK economy through significant growth in the north.”
Up to 60 jobs will be created as a result of Flybe, said to be Europe’s largest regional airline with 149 routes to nine countries, launching the routes and basing two Embraer Jet aircraft at the airport.
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said ‘many more’ would be created indirectly.
She added: “It was always anticipated that the FARRRS link road would make Doncaster Sheffield Airport a more attractive offering to airlines and we are delighted that this has already been realised.
“The new Flybe services will boost the number of passengers flying in and out of the region when the new road opens and that can only be good news for the local economy.”