Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield

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Robin Hood Airport
Doncaster Sheffield

Doncaster Sheffield
Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield Logo.svg
Robin Hood Airport 2006-04-02.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Peel Airports
Operator Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield
Serves Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley (South Yorkshire), Retford, Worksop (Bassetlaw District), Lincoln, Gainsborough (Lincolnshire), Wakefield (West Yorkshire)
Location Finningley, South Yorkshire
Elevation AMSL 56 ft / 17 m
Coordinates 53°28′31″N 001°00′15″W / 53.47528°N 1.00417°W / 53.47528; -1.00417Coordinates: 53°28′31″N 001°00′15″W / 53.47528°N 1.00417°W / 53.47528; -1.00417
DSA is located in the United Kingdom
Location in the United Kingdom
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 2,893 9,491 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 690,351
Passenger change 12-13 Decrease0.5%
Aircraft Movements 11,197
Movements change 12-13 Decrease4.5%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield (IATA: DSAICAO: EGCN) is an international airport located at the former RAF Finningley station at Finningley, in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster within South Yorkshire, England. The airport lies 3 nautical miles (5.6 km; 3.5 mi) southeast of Doncaster[1] and 18 mi (29 km) east of Sheffield. Handling 724,252 passengers in 2014, Robin Hood Airport is the smaller of Yorkshire's two large commercial airports, the other being Leeds Bradford Airport.[2]

The airport was initially operated by Peel Airports, a division of The Peel Group. At this time, Peel Airports also owned and managed Liverpool John Lennon Airport and City Airport Manchester. Peel Airports also owned a 75% stake in Durham Tees Valley Airport, the remaining 25% being owned by local councils in the DTVA area.[3] Doncaster Sheffield Airport has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P876) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.


Main article: RAF Finningley

The airport owes its origins to military aviation, having been founded as Finningley Airfield in 1915.

During the First World War, it was used as a base by the Royal Flying Corps as they intercepted German Zeppelins targeting the industrial cities of the North. In the Second World War the airfield was used primarily for training purposes, serving as a finishing school for new crews of the larger aircraft in Bomber Command; only a few combat missions took off from Finningley. The Cold War saw the airfield's importance rise when it was used for nuclear-armed Vulcan bombers. Training once again became the priority in the 1970s and 1980s before the airport was decommissioned in 1995.

It was reopened as Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield in April 2005 after low-cost flights and rising passenger demand made a new commercial airport feasible.[4] The name of the airport was controversial with 11,000 people signing a petition to oppose it.[5]

The airport's first commercial flight flew to Palma de Mallorca in Majorca, departing at 0915 on 28 April 2005.[6][7] The airport was projected to serve at least a million passengers during 2006. The actual figure for its first year was 899,000, making the airport the 23rd largest in the UK. By August 2007 the new airport had handled 2.28 million passengers.

Long haul flights to North America began in summer 2007, with Flyglobespan operating to Hamilton, Ontario (for Toronto), and Thomsonfly to Orlando, Cancún and Puerto Plata. All these routes have since been discontinued. In 2007 over one million passengers used the airport, however this had decreased to around 700,000 by 2012.[2]

In December 2009, EasyJet announced that from April 2010 it would operate flights from Doncaster to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Faro, Palma de Mallorca and Prague. These flights were expected to carry 300,000 passengers in the first year of operation.[8] However, EasyJet withdrew all flights from the airport with effect from 4 January 2011.

By 2010 the Peel Group was attempting to secure outside investment for Peel Airports. In June 2010 it was announced that Vantage Airport Group (formerly Vancouver Airport Services) had agreed to buy a 65% stake in Peel Airports, with The Peel Group retaining the remaining 35%.[9] However, following a significant decline in passenger numbers,[10] Peel Airports sold Durham Tees Valley Airport back to the Peel Group in February 2012.[3] In the second half of 2012, monthly passenger numbers at Robin Hood fell significantly[11] and in December 2012 it was announced that Robin Hood would also be sold back to the Peel Group.[12] As a result, by January 2013 only Liverpool John Lennon Airport was still owned by Peel Airports, with Vantage Airport Group owning 65% of this company.[13] At Durham Tees Valley Airport and Robin Hood Airport, Vantage's involvement had ended. Robin Hood Airport was once again wholly owned by The Peel Group,[14] while at Durham Tees Valley Airport The Peel Group were majority shareholders, with local councils retaining a minority stake.

Since 2011, the airport has been the home base of the last remaining airworthy Avro Vulcan aircraft.

Links Air have a Jetstream 31 based at the airport for flights to Belfast City and the Isle of Man.

As of July 2014, Robin Hood Airport is the home of the last Boeing 727 ever to be built. It is one of two previous FedEx Express airliners that are being converted as Oil Spill Response aircraft. The aircraft belongs to T2 Aviation and has the registration of G-OSRA. It can often be found circling at a low altitude above the airport as part of their training exercises.[15]


The airport has a single runway designated 02/20, with a length of 2,895 by 60 m (9,498 by 197 ft), making it longer and wider than those at many other airports in Northern England. This stems from the airport's history as a former long-range nuclear bomber base (see RAF Finningley), and makes the airport suitable for wide-bodied, long-haul or cargo-carrying aircraft. The runway is long enough that the airport was designated a Space Shuttle emergency landing site. There is significant room at the airport for further passenger and cargo capacity expansion in the future. As it stands, terminal capacity is around 2.5 million passengers annually.

The passenger terminal has 24 check in desks, 6 departure gates and 3 baggage carousels. Alpha Airport Shopping, WH Smith and Wetherspoons have retail areas within the terminal as well as gaming facilities.

Pretty much all landside facilities at the airport have now closed, including the airport bar, Costa Coffee shop and car rental outlets. All that remains is a WH Smith newsagent, an information counter, one automated teller machine (ATM), a few gaming machines, two irregularly open car-rental booths, and an irregularly open currency exchange booth.

A Ramada Encore chain hotel opened on 10 November 2008, with a 102 bed capacity.[16] It is situated about ten minutes' walk from the Terminal building, and although the city-centre bus leaves from in front of the Terminal building and travels directly past the hotel, there is no way of boarding or alighting the bus there. This necessitates a ten minute walk through the airport car-park, causing inconvenience particularly for passengers with heavy luggage or mobility issues.

Work is also progressing on a new business park across from the terminal, which will link to the access road into the airport. In March 2014 the 10-hectare (25-acre) site for the park became part of Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone.[17]

Defence company BAE Systems operates its Aircraft Maintenance Academy from No. 3 Hangar at the airport. Other companies that operate within the hangars include Bespoke Training Systems Limited, Kinch Aviation Services – a facility for the maintenance of the Cessna Citation, which also includes an aircraft spray facility.[18] Anglo European Express(Doncaster)ltd – Onsite regulated agents for airfreight and cargo operations

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations
Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
Dublin (begins 29 May 2015)[19]
BH Air Summer seasonal charter:[20] Burgas
Flybe Summer seasonal: Jersey
Links Air Belfast-City (resumes 23 June 2015)[21]
Summer seasonal: Isle of Man (resumes 29 May 2015)
Small Planet Airlines Summer seasonal: Verona (begins 17 July 2015)[22]
Thomas Cook Airlines Summer seasonal: Dalaman, Palma de Mallorca, Enfidha
Thomson Airways Alicante, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Málaga, Paphos, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife–South
Summer seasonal: Antalya, Bourgas, Corfu, Dalaman, Enfidha, Faro, Ibiza, Kos, Mahon, Montego Bay, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Rhodes, Zakynthos
Winter seasonal: Turin
Wizz Air Bucharest, Gdańsk, Katowice, Košice (begins 7 June 2015),[23] Poznań, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw–Chopin, Wrocław


The airport currently handles occasional one-off ad hoc freight flights, using aircraft such as the Airbus A300, McDonnell Douglas DC-10, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, Boeing 747-400 and Antonov 124. In February 2010 and November 2014, the airport was host to the world's largest aircraft, the Antonov 225. However, while Robin Hood's previous history as RAF Finningley has left the airport with space and infrastructure in place for further development of cargo services, most air cargo in the north of England continues to pass through East Midlands Airport and Manchester Airport.

In 2013, Robin Hood Airport handled 354 tonnes of cargo (similar to the total at Leeds Bradford Airport), while 266,968 tonnes passed through East Midlands and 96,373 tonnes were flown to and from Manchester.[24]


Thomson Airways Boeing 737-300 at Doncaster Sheffield Airport
Three Thomson Airways 737-800s Parked at Doncaster Terminal

Passengers and movements[edit]

Number of Passengers[25] Number of Movements[26] Passengers Change YoY
2005 600,907 5,380
2006 948,017 7,591 Increase57.8%
2007 1,078,374 9,292 Increase13.8%
2008 968,481 7,881 Decrease10.2%
2009 835,768 6,550 Decrease13.7%
2010 876,153 7,273 Increase04.8%
2011 822,877 6,163 Decrease06.1%
2012 693,661 4,718 Decrease15.7%
2013 690,351 4,634 Decrease00.5%
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[27]


10 Busiest Routes to and from Doncaster Sheffield Airport (2013)
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
2012 / 13
Operating Airlines
1  SpainTenerife–South 56,735 Decrease 7.9 Thomson Airways
2  SpainPalma de Mallorca 55,695 Increase 18 Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways
3  PolandGdansk 50,017 Increase 2.9 Wizz Air
4  PolandKatowice 48,101 Decrease 4.3 Wizz Air
5  PolandPoznań 40,506 Increase 7 Wizz Air
6  SpainAlicante 38,300 Increase 0.6 Thomson Airways
7  PolandWrocław 36,599 Decrease 4.2 Wizz Air
8  TurkeyDalaman 31,819 Increase 6.9 Thomson Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines
9  Spain - Malaga 31,764 Decrease 1.1 Thomson Airways
10  LithuaniaVilnius 31,360 Decrease 7.8 Wizz Air
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority [1]

Financial Performance[edit]

The airport has struggled financially throughout its history. In August 2008, a BBC report revealed that losses were averaging £1 million per month.[28] In August 2012, a news report claimed that operating losses had reduced, but were still in excess of £3 million per year.[29]

Other facilities[edit]

The airport is home to Doncaster Sheffield Flying School.[30]

Ground transportation[edit]


The airport is located close to the M18 motorway, but currently has no direct link road. In April 2011 funding (from the Regional Growth Fund) was announced for a direct road link from Junction 3 of the M18 to Parrot's Corner (junction of the A638 and the B6463) the so-called Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (FARRRS). Construction was due to start in late summer 2012 though initial site clearance work only commenced in 2013.[31] The road is due to be completed in January 2016 (Sheffield Telegraph 27 November 2014 p43). In addition the M18 is being widened to 3 lanes (from 2) from the M18 junction 2 to Junction 3. Also nearby are the A1(M) Motorway and the M180. The airport has over 2,500 car parking spaces.[32]


Doncaster station is 7 mi (11 km) from the airport. Doncaster is 1 hour 30 minutes from London Kings Cross or 30 minutes from Leeds City on the east coast main line. The journey to Sheffield station is around 20 to 25 minutes. One local bus service links Doncaster station with the airport.

In addition, the airport lies alongside the Doncaster to Lincoln railway line, and plans for a station at Finningley to replace that closed in 1961 were granted planning permission in 2008. However, a 2012 report by Network Rail stated that more trains on the line would be required to make the station viable.[33]


There are regular bus services linking the airport with Doncaster, Barnsley and other surrounding areas. At one time there was a shuttle service between Doncaster railway station/Doncaster town centre and the airport, running non-stop. It was numbered 707 and through tickets were sold from the GNER/National Express/East Coast website from stations on the ECML direct to the airport, including travel on this bus service. Soon after operations started the 707 route was adjusted to call at local stops along the route, resulting in longer journey times, and therefore a less punctual and reliable service.

As of August 2010 the route has been scrapped altogether, with First's 91 service being the 'official' airport bus. Travel early morning/late evening and weekends can be problematic. For example, on a Sunday the first bus from the Airport to Doncaster railway station/Doncaster Town Centre does not depart until 0930, likewise in the other direction the first bus to the airport does not arrive until 1002 [34] causing problems for passengers travelling on the first flight (TOM3638) to Alicante, departing at 0625. The bus service continues through the day but at a frequency of only one per hour on Sundays, in both directions.[34] The alternative service, operated by Stagecoach Yorkshire, is numbered X19, and operates Monday to Saturday, around once an hour. This service operates via Doncaster to Barnsley, and is a generally a few minutes faster into Doncaster thanks to its alternative route, but is slightly more expensive.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Main article: Twitter Joke Trial

On 6 January 2010, Paul Chambers, who was intending to travel from Doncaster Sheffield, posted a message to Twitter threatening to bomb the airport. He was later arrested, tried and convicted of sending a menacing message. In July 2012, the conviction was quashed on appeal.

On 15 August 2014, a Links Air flight from Belfast City Airport operated by G-GAVA crashed on landing at Doncaster Sheffield, following a landing gear failure. One passenger was taken to hospital for treatment from minor injuries - resulting in the airport's closure for several hours. There were no fatalities.

The airport in the media[edit]

During its first few years of operation, Robin Hood Airport has featured in the media, in particular numerous articles on its status as the UK's newest international airport have seen it become part of the debate into air tourism and environmental issues. On 24 January 2007, the airport featured in the BBC Two documentary Should I Really Give Up Flying?, with Doncaster actor Brian Blessed fronting local opinions on the issue.

Robin Hood Airport has also been a filming location for popular television series such as ITV's Emmerdale[35] and BBC One drama Hustle.[36]

Robin Hood Airport was also a filming location for Film4 Productions film Four Lions.[37]

Robin Hood Airport was also the joint sponsor, along with Thomsonfly, of ITV Regional Weather in South Yorkshire.

Doncaster Airport was also used as one of the settings for the BBC mockumentary Come Fly with Me. Matt Lucas and David Walliams spent two weeks at the airport filming.[38] The programme aired from Christmas 2010 through January 2011.

Robin Hood Airport (or at that time RAF Finningley) had several appearances in the 1984 BBC nuclear war docudrama Threads where it was destroyed by a Soviet nuclear warhead.

Airport name[edit]

A statue of the airport's namesake Robin Hood.

The name is now often simply referred to on travel websites and on other literature as Doncaster/Sheffield Airport or Doncaster Airport, even though the official name is Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. It was renamed 'Robin Hood' based on the following local information:

  1. The original Robin Hood legends are set in Barnsdale Forest, the area of South Yorkshire which surrounded Doncaster and Pontefract. This legend is reinforced by the fact that the now closed village pub in nearby Hatfield Woodhouse is known as the Robin Hood and Little John.
  2. The airport has a historical connection to Nottinghamshire (as the parish of Finningley was, until 1974 and the Local Government Act 1972, administered as part of Nottinghamshire) and still resides in the boundary of the Diocese of Nottingham.[39]
  3. The runway extension (completed in 1957) to accommodate Vulcan bombers, extended the airfield into the county of Nottinghamshire.
  4. Some later Robin Hood legends – and the popular 20th century books, films and TV programmes are set in Sherwood Forest.[40]
  5. The Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster is closer to what is left of Sherwood Forest than the city of Nottingham is.[41]
  6. The forests of Sherwood and Barnsdale merged in this area of Yorkshire.[42]
  7. The name would provide an identity which would raise a lot of attention (if a little controversy) for the airport and create a marketing opportunity.[43]

The airport name has caused media controversy as Robin Hood was not, during the 20th century, regularly associated with Doncaster, despite the Barnsdale legends and the references to Robin Hood in pub names such as the aforementioned Robin Hood and Little John. Many citizens of Nottingham feel that Robin Hood should be the icon of their city alone (despite the fact that it was the Sheriff that came from Nottingham).


  1. ^ a b "Doncaster Sheffield – EGCN". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "UK Annual Airport Statistics". CAA. 31 October 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Background Information". 10 February 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  4. ^ History of Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield
  5. ^ '"Airport's new name misses target"' 12 November 2004 BBC News.
  6. ^ "'Take-off at new Yorkshire Airport'". BBC News. 28 April 2005. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  7. ^ '"Bevy of Maid Marians laid on to cheer lift-off of DSA1 at Doncaster's Robin Hood airport"' The Guardian (29 April 2005)
  8. ^ "Major boost for airport as UK's biggest airline set to move in". 11 December 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Robin Hood Airport". Robin Hood Airport. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Robin Hood Airport". Robin Hood Airport. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Our Airports | Vantage". 7 April 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  14. ^ "Aviation - The Peel Group". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  15. ^,G-OSRA-T2-Aviation.php
  16. ^ "Ramada Encore Hotel Lands At Airport Business Park". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  17. ^ Newton-Syms, Ellie (11 March 2014). "Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone announces expansion plans". The Business Desk. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Invest in Doncaster – Businesses Onboard[dead link]
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Number of Passengers including both domestic and international.
  26. ^ Number of Movements represents total aircraft takeoffs and landings during that year.
  27. ^ "UK Airport Statistics". 31 October 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Welcome to Doncaster Sheffield Flying School - Doncaster Sheffield Flying School". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  31. ^ Sheffield Telegraph. 19 July 2012. p. 34.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "Robin Hood Airport Car Parking". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  33. ^ Network Rail, Route Specifications 2012 – London North Eastern, p76
  34. ^ a b
  35. ^ "Robin Hood Airport Press Office". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  36. ^ "Robin Hood Airport". Robin Hood Airport. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ high_flying_comics_come_down_to_earth_at_yorkshire_airport_1_3029440 High-flying comics come down to earth at Yorkshire airport[dead link]
  39. ^ Table of parishes and other places in Nottinghamshire, up to 1842[dead link]
  40. ^ Robin Hood in popular culture
  41. ^ Sherwood Forest County Park map
  42. ^ "Reference to Barnsdale Forest with Map also showing Merger of Forests in this area". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  43. ^ Haran, Brady (4 May 2004). "Evidence of Controversy caused by Airport Name and Marketing opportunity". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield at Wikimedia Commons