Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield

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Robin Hood Airport
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)
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 South Yorkshire
Location in South Yorkshire
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 2,893 9,491 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Passengers 724,885
Passenger change (13-14) Increase5.0%
Aircraft Movements 11,697
Movements change (13-14) Increase4.5%
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 miles (5 kilometres) southeast of Doncaster[1] and 18 mi (29 km) east of Sheffield. Handling 724,885 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.

Following the ending of scheduled services from Sheffield City Airport, 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.[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. 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.

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] In August 2014, the second Boeing 727 aircraft, G-OSRB[16] arrived at Robin Hood Airport to also carry out flights for T2 Aviation.

In November 2015 Flybe announced they are going to base two Embraer 195s at Robin Hood Airport from March 2016 to operate flights to Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Jersey, Newquay, Faro, Malaga and Alicante.


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

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.[17] 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.

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.[18]

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,[19] and Anglo European Express (Doncaster) Ltd – onsite regulated agents for air freight and cargo operations.

The airport is home to Doncaster Sheffield Flying School.[20]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations
Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
BH Air Seasonal charter: Burgas[21]
Flybe Alicante (begins 25 March 2016), Amsterdam (begins 27 March 2016), Berlin-Tegel (begins 27 March 2016), Faro (begins 27 March 2016), Jersey (begins 27 March 2016), Málaga (begins 27 March 2016), Newquay (begins 24 March 2016), Paris-Charles de Gaulle (begins 27 March 2016) [22]
Thomas Cook Airlines Seasonal: Dalaman, Enfidha, Palma de Mallorca
Thomson Airways Alicante, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Málaga, Sharm el-Sheikh (suspended),[23] Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Antalya, Bourgas, Corfu, Dalaman, Enfidha, Faro, Heraklion (begins 1 June 2016),[24] Ibiza, Kos, Larnaca (begins 1 June 2016),[24] Mahon, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Reus, Rhodes, Turin, Zakynthos
Wizz Air Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca (begins 22 July 2016),[25] Gdańsk, Katowice, Košice, Lublin, 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, November 2014 and November 2015, 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.[26]

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.[27] The airport remained XH558's home base until its final flight, a display over the airport, on 28 October 2015.[28]

With XH558 now permanently grounded, the Trust intends to remain at Robin Hood 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.[29][30]


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[31] Number of Movements[32] Passengers Change YoY
2005 600,907 6,914
2006 948,017 10,642 Increase57.8%
2007 1,078,374 12,667 Increase13.8%
2008 968,481 13,066 Decrease10.2%
2009 835,768 10,584 Decrease13.7%
2010 876,153 11,030 Increase04.8%
2011 822,877 11,876 Decrease06.1%
2012 693,661 11,724 Decrease15.7%
2013 690,351 11,197 Decrease00.5%
2014 724,885 11,697 Increase05.0%
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]


10 Busiest Routes to and from Doncaster Sheffield Airport (2014)
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
2013 / 14
1 Gdansk 64,439 Increase 28.8
2 Palma de Mallorca 62,145 Increase 11.6
3 Katowice 55,867 Increase 16.1
4 Tenerife–South 47,595 Decrease 16.1
5 Poznań 43,612 Increase 7.7
6 Wrocław 43,486 Increase 18.8
7 Alicante 38,097 Decrease 0.5
8 Warsaw 36,831 Increase 22.4
9 Malaga 32,411 Increase 2.0
10 Dalaman 31,963 Increase 0.5
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.[33] In August 2012, a news report claimed that operating losses had reduced, but were still in excess of £3 million per year.[34]

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). Once completed, the link road is expected to reduce driving time from Sheffield city centre from the current 40 minutes to just 25.

Construction was due to start in late summer 2012 though initial site clearance work only commenced in 2013.[35][full citation needed] 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.[36]


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.[37]


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/East Coast website from stations on the East Coast Main Line 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 [38] 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.[38] 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.

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 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 Doncaster Sheffield, following a landing gear failure, causing substantial damage to the aircraft. 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[39] and BBC One drama Hustle.[40]

Robin Hood Airport was also a filming location for Film4 Productions film Four Lions.[41]

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.[42] 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.

Robin Hood Airport team up with Robin Hood Flights Comparison website for Doncaster Flights Official Site at

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.[43]
  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.[44]
  5. The Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster is closer to what is left of Sherwood Forest than the city of Nottingham is.[45]
  6. The forests of Sherwood and Barnsdale merged in this area of Yorkshire.[46]
  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.[47]

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 d "UK Annual Airport Statistics". CAA. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  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". 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". 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. ^
  17. ^ "Ramada Encore Hotel Lands At Airport Business Park". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  18. ^ Newton-Syms, Ellie (11 March 2014). "Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone announces expansion plans". The Business Desk. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  19. ^ Invest in Doncaster – Businesses Onboard[dead link]
  20. ^ "Welcome to Doncaster Sheffield Flying School - Doncaster Sheffield Flying School". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b "Flight timetable". Thomson Airways Ltd. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Welcome Home - Vulcan XH558 returns to Doncaster". Global Aviation Resource, 5 April 2011.
  28. ^ "Final Flight report" Vulcan To The Sky, 30th October 2015.
  29. ^ "An exciting new life for XH558". Vulcan To The Sky, 25 November 2015.
  30. ^ "EoF Question & Answers - Vulcan To The Sky". Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  31. ^ Number of Passengers including both domestic and international.
  32. ^ Number of Movements represents total aircraft takeoffs and landings during that year.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Sheffield Telegraph. 19 July 2012. p. 34.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ "Robin Hood Airport Car Parking". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  37. ^ Network Rail, Route Specifications 2012 – London North Eastern, p76
  38. ^ a b
  39. ^ "Robin Hood Airport Press Office". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  40. ^ "Robin Hood Airport". Robin Hood Airport. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ high_flying_comics_come_down_to_earth_at_yorkshire_airport_1_3029440 High-flying comics come down to earth at Yorkshire airport Archived 16 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Table of parishes and other places in Nottinghamshire, up to 1842 Archived 3 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ Robin Hood in popular culture
  45. ^ Sherwood Forest County Park map
  46. ^ "Reference to Barnsdale Forest with Map also showing Merger of Forests in this area". Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  47. ^ 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