Thousands of extra seats and millions in investment as TUI bases fourth jet at Doncaster Sheffield Airport
Holiday airline TUI will base a fourth jet at Doncaster Sheffield Airport in a multi-million investment into one of the country’s fastest growing airports.
It will bring 136,000 new seats a year, on two new routes and increased frequency to 10 existing destinations.
A 189-passenger Boeing 737 will be based at DSA, creating about 50 crew and ground staff jobs.
The move is seen as a huge vote of confidence in the site by the FTSE 100 firm, which also announced new routes at four other UK airports to fill gaps from the collapse of Thomas Cook earlier this month.
Doncaster is the only place where the decision is based on pure passenger growth. It also comes ahead of DSA announcing a record 1.4m passengers in the year to March 2020.
Robert Hough CBE, chairman of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said it was a huge commitment by TUI and an endorsement of DSA despite the “headwinds” of Brexit uncertainty, falling consumer confidence and a weak pound.
He added: “We are the only airport where TUI is announcing growth and not backfilling after the collapse of Thomas Cook. It’s a clear investment and a confident statement about our airport.
“It’s a sign of just how far we have come in difficult times. Many airports will now be losing passengers but we are growing and on track to have doubled the total since 2013.”
TUI, which was Thomson, has had a plane at DSA since 2005. It stationed a third jet at the airport last year. The fourth will start in summer next year. It will bring two new destinations, Heraklion and Fuerteventura and take the number of destinations from the airport to 51.
Dawn Hutchinson, TUI crew performance manager said: “This is a fantastic opportunity. It’s amazing to see how far we have come.”
Ticket sales are strong, she added. Some 130 TUI staff are based at DSA, dropping to 70 in winter.
The Great Yorkshire Way link road to the airport has cut journey times from Sheffield to under half an hour.
Ros Jones, mayor of Doncaster, said it was a compelling offer which could only be improved by a station off the East Coast mainline.
Council chiefs and airport bosses believe it could help take pressure off airports in the South East and rebalance the economy. A bid for £300m funding is with government.
James Muir, chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said DSA was a significant element in a strategic economic plan he was developing for the region ahead of a bid for government funds.
He added: “The east side of the Pennines needs an international airport with the right connections. Some 6.5m people from Yorkshire travel to Manchester every year. I believe DSA has enormous potential and can aspire to 5m passengers a year.”
The new jet is expected to add £1m gross revenue to the airport in airline payments and extra passenger spend. It is a £15m turnover business that is losing £5m-a-year. But owners at Peel, which has ploughed £270m into the site, remains committed to its future, Mr Hough said.