Doncaster Sheffield Airport has today (Thursday, May 27) celebrated as Wizz Air UK restarted its flights from the UK’s favourite airport, following the UK Government’s lifting of the ban on international travel.
Wizz has seen operations restart at its DSA base, with the first flight to the popular holiday destination, Faro in Portugal, taking off this morning, .
Doncaster Sheffield Airport, which recently celebrated its 16th anniversary, is prepped and ready to get passengers back in the air; the check-in desks are in shape and the sanitiser stations refilled in readiness for a highly anticipated summer season in the sun.
Every effort has been made to create a safe and seamless service, including a new testing centre located at DSA operated by the market leader, Randox so that passengers can easily follow the current guidance and take the appropriate tests before departure and on return.
There were around 100 passengers on board the flight to Faro, which left Doncaster at 8:15 am.
The Star spoke to a group of passengers who were off to watch the football in Portugal, one member of the party said: “We’re off to watch the football, so we’re excited. We arranged it quite last minute. We booked the flights about a week ago and got the tickets for the game on Tuesday. Testing and things like that has been a bit rough.
“I’m not too nervous about Covid; I went away just before the first lockdown last March. We went to Valencia for five days just as Covid was all kicking off, so...no, I’m not too nervous as long as you look after yourself.”
Another holidaymaker said: “I’m extremely excited; it’s been a long time since we’ve been anywhere. I’m a key worker, and it’s been really stressful and tiring, so I’m going to have a little lie down for a while.
“I’ve had both of my vaccines, and I always follow aseptic cross-infection anyway with my background. As much as we take it seriously, I think it’s time that we try and move on as a nation; we’ve got to, we can’t carry on how we are.”
In total, 12 countries and territories have been added to the green list, including Portugal, Singapore, Iceland, Gibraltar and Israel.
However, many ‘green list’ countries will continue to place restrictions on UK travellers, including quarantine measures, so passengers are encouraged to check all requirements and FCDO travel advice before booking any foreign travel.
Arrivals from green list countries will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, on or before day two of their arrival back into the UK – but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests.
Chris Harcombe, managing director at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: “We’re delighted to see the return of flights to the green-list countries starting with Portugal today and a number of other flights departing in the next seven days. It’s really great to see the airport come back to life after a very challenging period for us and the whole sector. Our priority is getting passengers away on holiday safely, and we’re hopeful that additional countries will be added to the green list in the coming weeks, perhaps not straight away, but certainly by the summer holidays. We're looking forward to working hard with our airlines to provide the choice that customers are looking for.
“We’ve been through a number of lockdowns over the last 12 months, and passengers have fallen to about 90% of pre-pandemic levels, which is common across the whole UK sector. The challenge for us, and airlines, is building it back. We’ve seen flights depart with very strong load factors, so the demand is there, and we know people have spent much of the last 12/14 months cooped up at home, wanting to get away; I think we see that in terms of UK holidays and overseas for the summer. The ironic thing is we’ve now got more seats on sale than we have had for many years in the airport's history. We have the capacity with TUI and Wizz Air ready to operate. The key thing is the restrictions in place.
He added: “We’ve taken great care to put the steps in place to make sure people are safe travelling through the airport and are working with our airlines. Our airlines have worked incredibly hard to make sure there’s enough flexibility for customers as well, so making sure that you can get your money back very quickly when plans change. We know that a lot of people are having to stay flexible over the year ahead. But we are confident, and our airlines are confident, and we are looking forward to welcoming as many people as possible over the summer.”
Owain Jones, managing director of Wizz Air UK, said: “We are delighted to be restarting operations from our Doncaster Sheffield base, bringing back connections to the region, and offering our customers great value travel options for their post lockdown getaway. With 25 routes on offer from Doncaster Sheffield, including seven Spanish sunshine destinations, we are ensuring customers in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire can fly from their local airport to popular holiday hotspots this summer. We look forward to welcoming passengers back on board our young, modern and sustainable aircraft, where they can rely on our stringent health and hygiene measures and excellent service as they head on their long-awaited summer holiday.”