Doncaster Sheffield Airport

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Doncaster Sheffield Airport
Robin Hood Airport (3 of 7) - - 449841.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner Peel Group
Operator Doncaster Sheffield Airport Limited
Serves Doncaster, Sheffield
Location Finningley, South Yorkshire
Opened April 2005
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 South Yorkshire
Location in South Yorkshire
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 2,893 9,491 Asphalt
Statistics (2016)
Passengers 1,255,907
Passenger change (15-16) Increase46.5%
Aircraft Movements 16,098
Movements change (15-16) Increase34.2%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Doncaster Sheffield Airport (IATA: DSAICAO: EGCN), formerly named Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, 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 miles (5 kilometres) southeast of Doncaster[1] and 18 mi (29 km) east of Sheffield. Handling 1.26 million passengers in 2016, the airport is the smaller of Yorkshire's two large commercial airports, the other being Leeds Bradford Airport.[2]

The airport opened to passengers in 2005. It was initially operated by Peel Airports, a division of The Peel Group, who at the time also owned and managed Liverpool John Lennon Airport and City Airport Manchester, and had a 75% stake in Durham Tees Valley Airport.[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.

Following the ending of scheduled services from Sheffield City Airport, the former RAF Finningley was reopened as Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield (DSA) 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, before increasing again to 1.255 million in 2016.[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 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 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 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, Peel were majority shareholders, with local councils retaining a minority stake. In 2014, Peel took back full ownership of Liverpool John Lennon, bringing all of Peel's airports back into group ownership, with Liverpool retaining its own management structure separate to Doncaster and Durham.

In September 2016, the airport signed a deal with Sheffield United Football Club. This resulted in Doncaster Sheffield Airport being the club's official air travel provider. To promote the partnership, a large advertisement has been displayed across one of the stands at Bramall Lane Stadium. As a method of increasing passenger numbers at the airport, the football club has also been giving away free flights to their fans. Since the new airport link road (Great Yorkshire Way) opened, which connects Parrots Corner to the M18's Junction 3, Sheffield is only 30 minutes away by road which supports the partnership between the airport and the football club further.[15]

In December 2016, the airport received an entirely new corporate design including a change of name from Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with the Robin Hood title being downgraded to a lesser used graphic appendix.


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 (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. World Duty Free, WH Smith and Wetherspoons have retail areas within the terminal as well as gaming facilities. In December 2015, a Subway restaurant opened inside the terminal.

As of June 2016, the airport is one of the few in the UK that is unable to accept mobile boarding passes for its flights, instead requiring customers to print a paper boarding pass before arriving at the airport.

Few landside facilities exist. The Running Horse is a pub/cafe serving passengers who have cleared security.

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 town-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.

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 formerly operated its Aircraft Maintenance Academy from No. 3 Hangar at the airport, before moving to Humberside Airport. Other companies that operate within the hangars include Bespoke Training Systems Limited, a Cessna Citation service center,[18] and Anglo European Express (Doncaster) Ltd (onsite regulated agents for air freight and cargo operations).

The airport is home to Doncaster Sheffield Flight Training.[19]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Doncaster Sheffield:[20]

Airlines Destinations
Air Europa Seasonal charter: Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife–South[21]
BH Air Seasonal charter: Burgas
Flybe Alicante, Amsterdam, Berlin-Tegel, Dublin, Jersey, Málaga, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Chambéry, Faro, Newquay, Palma de Mallorca (begins 7 July 2017)
Freebird Airlines Seasonal charter: Dalaman[22]
Thomas Cook Airlines
operated by Avion Express
Seasonal: Palma de Mallorca (resumes 25 May 2017)
Thomson Airways Alicante, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Málaga, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Burgas (resumes 22 May 2017),[23] Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik (begins 4 May 2017),[24] Faro, Heraklion, Ibiza, Larnaca, Menorca, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Reus, Rhodes, Zakynthos
Seasonal charter: Barbados, Montego Bay, Turin
Wizz Air Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Gdańsk, Katowice, Košice, Lublin, Poznań, Riga, Sofia, Vilnius, Warsaw–Chopin, Wrocław


Airlines Destinations
operated by ASL Airlines France
Kassel, Wrocław[25]

Vulcan XH558[edit]

In 2011, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust relocated Avro Vulcan XH558 (G-VLCN) The Spirit Of Great Britain to the airport, arriving from its former temporary winter base, RAF Lyneham, on 29 March. It was the last airworthy example of the Vulcan bomber fleet, restored to flight by the Trust in 2007. One of the reasons for the move to a commercial airport was to improve access for the public to see XH558 up close, something not possible while based at operational RAF bases. The move was deliberately not announced in advance, both to keep costs down at the not yet complete new base, and to not overshadow ongoing repatriation flights of Britain's war casualties to Lyneham from Afghanistan.[26] The airport remained XH558's home base until its final flight, a display over the airport, on 28 October 2015.[27]

With XH558 now permanently grounded, the Trust intends to remain at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, and make the Vulcan the focus of a new educational and heritage facility, the first stage being to establish the Vulcan Aviation Academy & Heritage Centre. This will feature an academy building for 14-18 year olds, with the Vulcan housed in an adjacent heritage centre, where it will be maintained so as to be able to perform regular fast taxi runs, the frequency of which would be funding dependent.[28][29]


Traffic statistics[edit]

Doncaster Sheffield Airport
Passenger Totals 2005-2016 (millions)
Traffic statistics at Doncaster Sheffield[2]
% change
% change
% change
2005 600,907 Steady 31 Steady 6,914 Steady
2006 900,067 Increase49.8 167 Increase438.7 10,642 Increase 53.9
2007 1,078,374 Increase19.8 1,602 Increase859.3 12,667 Increase 19.0
2008 968,481 Decrease10.2 1,350 Decrease15.7 13,066 Increase 3.1
2009 835,768 Decrease13.7 344 Decrease74.5 10,854 Decrease 16.9
2010 876,153 Increase4.8 216 Decrease37.2 11,030 Increase 1.6
2011 822,877 Decrease6.1 102 Decrease52.8 11,876 Increase 7.7
2012 693,661 Decrease15.7 276 Increase170.6 11,724 Decrease 1.3
2013 690,351 Decrease0.5 354 Increase28.3 11,197 Decrease 4.5
2014 724,885 Increase5.0 858 Increase142.4 11,697 Increase 4.5
2015 857,109 Increase18.2 3,201 Increase273.1 11,998 Increase 2.6
2016 1,255,907 Increase46.5 9,341 Increase191.8 16,098 Increase 34.2

Busiest routes[edit]

10 busiest routes to and from Doncaster Sheffield Airport (2016)
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % change
1 Katowice 94,917 Increase 22.3
2 Gdańsk 81,458 Increase 7.2
3 Alicante 79,512 Increase 107.5
4 Poznań 75,906 Increase 40.3
5 Palma de Mallorca 65,330 Increase 15.4
6 Warsaw 57,298 Increase 29.4
7 Málaga 57,148 Increase 48.5
8 Wrocław 51,969 Increase 6.9
9 Tenerife–South 49,845 Increase 16.5
10 Paris–Charles de Gaulle 48,431 New Route
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority [30]

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.[31] In August 2012, a news report claimed that operating losses had reduced, but were still in excess of £3 million per year.[32]

Ground transportation[edit]


The airport is located close to the M18 motorway; a road link from Junction 3 of the M18 to Parrot's Corner (junction of the A638 and the B6463) was opened on 29 February 2016.[33] Part of the Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme, the road is called the Great Yorkshire Way, and is a continuation of the A6182 from Doncaster town centre. In addition the M18 has been widened to three lanes northbound from junction 2 (for the A1(M)) to Junction 3. Also nearby are the A1(M) and the M180.


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 between 20-40 minutes. A 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 the station 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.[34]


There are regular bus services linking the airport with Doncaster, Barnsley and other surrounding areas.

An express bus service between Doncaster and the airport was re-launched on 4 September 2016. The X4 bus, which is operated by First, will pick up travellers from the Frenchgate Interchange in Doncaster and Parrot’s Corner (Doncaster South Park & Ride) and drop off at Doncaster Sheffield Airport leaving every 30 minutes between Monday to Saturday and hourly on Sundays.

Currently, no direct bus connects the airport with Sheffield city centre. Public transport users must take the bus to Doncaster then switch to a Sheffield-bound bus or train.

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 the airport following a landing gear failure which caused substantial damage to the aircraft. One passenger was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The airport was closed for several hours.

In media[edit]

During its first few years of operation, the 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.


A statue of the airport's namesake Robin Hood.

Until December 2016, the airport was branded Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. The 'Robin Hood' name was chosen for these reasons:

  1. 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]
  2. Some later Robin Hood legends, and the popular 20th century books, films and TV programmes, are set in Sherwood Forest.[40]
  3. The Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster is closer to what is left of Sherwood Forest than the city of Nottingham is.[41]
  4. The forests of Sherwood and Barnsdale merged in this area of Yorkshire.[42]
  5. 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]


  1. ^ a b "Doncaster Sheffield – EGCN". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "UK Annual Airport Statistics". CAA. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Background Information". 10 February 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008. 
  5. ^ "Airport's new name misses target". BBC News. 12 November 2004. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  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". Yorkshire Post. 11 December 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Robin Hood Airport". Robin Hood Airport. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  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. ^ "Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) have been announced today as the Official Airport Partner of Sheffield United Football Club". Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  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. ^ "Cessna announces first UK Citation Service Centre". FLYER. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  19. ^ "Doncaster Sheffield Flight Training". Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  20. ^ - Destinations retrieved 15 February 2017
  21. ^ Account & booking (31 October 2015). "Flights Timetable | Thomson Airways". Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  22. ^ "Thomson Holidays - Dalaman". Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  23. ^ "Thomson Summer 2017 New Routes". Retrieved 29 January 2017. 
  24. ^ "Flight timetable". Thomson Airways Ltd. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  25. ^ "Amazon runs trial air operation in Europe - report - Lloyd's Loading List". 31 December 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  26. ^ "Welcome Home - Vulcan XH558 returns to Doncaster". Global Aviation Resource, 5 April 2011.
  27. ^ "Final Flight report". Vulcan To The Sky. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  28. ^ "An exciting new life for XH558". Vulcan To The Sky, 25 November 2015.
  29. ^ "EoF Question & Answers - Vulcan To The Sky". Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  30. ^ "Airport data 2015 | UK Civil Aviation Authority". Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  31. ^ "UK | England | South Yorkshire | Airport aims to land big carriers". BBC News. 25 August 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  32. ^ Start, Author (21 August 2012). "Mixed picture for Robin Hood Airport". Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  33. ^ "New £56m Robin Hood Airport to M18 link road opens". BBC News. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  34. ^ Network Rail, Route Specifications 2012 – London North Eastern, p76
  35. ^ "Emmerdale filming takes place at Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport". Doncaster Free Press. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  36. ^ "Robin Hood Airport". Robin Hood Airport. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  37. ^ "Four Lions (2010) : Filming Locations". Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  38. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  39. ^ Table of parishes and other places in Nottinghamshire, up to 1842 Archived 3 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  40. ^ Robin Hood in popular culture
  41. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2006. 
  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