The Aer Lingus decision to restart flights to Dublin is a big step on the way to making Doncaster the “credible airport of choice for Sheffield City Region,” according to managing director Steve Gill.
He and his team have been far more proactive in lobbying airlines since the recession and their efforts are starting to bear fruit, with seven new routes in the last year.
He said: “I’m really delighted, in the last year we have really concentrated our efforts and the business is increasingly attractive to airlines.”
But the airport’s business model – which includes a £150m investment by owners Peel Group – is based on a “transformation” created by the FARRRS link road when it opens in January 2016.
It is set to slash journey times from Sheffield city centre to 25 minutes, while six million people will be an hour’s drive away or less.
“The board reacquired the airport from Vantage in 2012 with the belief that it had a future. We have contributed £12m to the new road and we are continuing to invest because we still believe,” he added.
Jo Miller, Doncaster Council chief executive, said: “Given this is the place the original Pilgrim Fathers came from it feels absolutely right to have flights from Doncaster to Boston. We are the gateway to Yorkshire.
“There is a great shared love of horse racing with the Irish, 100,000 of whom come as tourists, contributing £20m to the economy every year.”
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber, said the new route justified the backing the region’s chambers had given to the airport.
He added: “Poor connectivity can really hold back economic growth.”