Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield

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Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield

Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield (IATA: DSA, ICAO: EGCN) is an international airport located at the former RAF Finningley airbase at Finningley, in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster within South Yorkshire, England. The airport lies 3 NM (5.6 km; 3.5 mi) southeast of Doncaster and 18 mi (29 km) east of Sheffield.

The airport is operated by Peel Airports, a division of Peel Holdings majority owned by Vancouver Airport Services. Peel Airports also owns and manages Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Durham Tees Valley Airport, City Airport Manchester and the former Sheffield City Airport (which closed in April 2008). Handling around 875,000 passengers in 2010, the airport is Yorkshire's second largest airport, after Leeds Bradford Airport.

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.

History

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. The identity of the airport was controversial with 11,000 people signing a petition to oppose it.

The airport's first commercial flight flew to Palma de Mallorca in Majorca, departing at 0915 on 28 April 2005. 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.

Aer Lingus then launched services to Dublin in 2010, using ATR72 aircraft which were operated by Aer Arann. However load factors made the route no longer viable and it was cancelled in October 2010 just months after its launch.

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. However, EasyJet withdrew all flights from the airport with effect from 4 January 2011.

In May 2010 Thomson Airways announced that it would replace one of its Boeing 737-300's based at the airport with a Boeing 737-800 creating 15,000 additional seats annually. However in May 2011 Thomson Airways announced that it would slash aircraft based at Doncaster by a third, down to two for summer 2012.

Wizz Air announced a new route for summer 2011 to Vilnius, in addition to its services to Gdansk, Katowice, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw. This route is expected to create around 30,000 extra seats. Peel, the airports owners said that "these extra routes would replace the loss of the EasyJet flights". Doncaster is Wizz Air's second largest hub in the United Kingdom after Luton.

In late 2010, Ryanair announced flights to Tenerife South and Faro airports.

As of 2011, The airport will be the base of the last remaining airworthy Avro Vulcan aircraft.

In May 2011, it was announced that new airline HiAir will begin trial flights to Amsterdam on 5 September 2011.

Facilities

The airport currently has a single runway designated 02/20, with a length of 2,893 by 60 m (9,491 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. 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.

Inside the passenger terminal are 24 check in desks, 6 departure gates and 3 baggage carousels. Alpha airport shopping, WH Smith, J D Wetherspoons & Costa Coffee all have retail areas within the terminal as well as gaming facilities.

Part of the airport site is being developed into a business and technology park which will link with the M18 motorway at Junction 3.

A Ramada Encore chain hotel opened on 10 November 2008, with a 102 bed capacity. Work is also progressing on a new 62-acre (250,000 m2) business park across from the terminal, which will link to the access road into the airport.

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. Anglo European Express(Doncaster)ltd - Onsite regulated agents for airfreight and cargo operations

Airlines and destinations
Cargo flights

The airport currently handles occasional one-off ad hoc freight flights, using aircraft such as the A300, DC10, MD11, Boeing 747 and Antonov 124. In February 2010, the airport was host to the world's largest aircraft, the Antonov 225. The airport also notably handled the aircraft which rescued lions from Romania.

There is space and infrastructure in place from RAF Finningley for further development of cargo services.

Flight training

The airport is home to Doncaster Sheffield Flying School which is the only flying school in Doncaster, offering Introductory Flying Lessons, Pilot Training and Aircraft Hire.

Statistics

In 2007 over one million passengers used the airport, however this had decreased to around 875,000 by 2010.

Ground transport
Road

The airport is located close to the M18 motorway, but currently has no direct link road. A direct motorway road link from Junction 3 of the M18 to the airport is planned and is expected to open by 2010. Also nearby are the A1(M) Motorway, M62 motorway and M1 motorway. There is also a connection from Junction 34 of the A1(M) motorway. The airport has over 2,500 car parking spaces.

Rail

Doncaster station is 7 mi (11 km) from the airport. Doncaster is 1 hour 35 minutes from London Kings Cross or 40 minutes from Leeds City going north. The journey to Sheffield station is around 40 minutes. Several direct bus services link 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 have been submitted for local planning permission. Doncaster Council are now considering this with a target opening date of 2011.

Bus

There are regular bus services linking the airport with Doncaster, Barnsley, Retford, Worksop and other surrounding areas. At one time there was a shuttle service between Doncaster railway station/Doncaster Town Centre & Bus station 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. As of August 2010 the route has been scrapped altogether, with First's 91 service being the 'official' airport bus, with dedicated buses with larger luggage racks being on the route. Despite the 707 airport bus service being withdrawn, as of September the through tickets on the East Coast website to the airport, including travel on this bus service, are still shown when requested and available to purchase. The only direct 'public transport' route remaining now, from the Town Centre and Railway station to the Airport, is by taxi or minicab.

Accidents and incidents
Security incidents
  • 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. (Main article: Twitter Joke Trial)
Airport in the media

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 and BBC drama Hustle.

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

Come Fly with Me

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. The programme aired from Christmas 2010 through January 2011.

Airport name

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:

Names that were then suggested by people of the borough and surrounding areas included:

  • Doncaster International Airport
  • South Yorkshire International Airport
  • Finningley International Airport

Visitors may refer to the airport as 'Robin Hood' or Doncaster/Sheffield Airport; longstanding local residents may refer to the airport as 'Finningley' or 'Finno'; otherwise the airport is referred to as Doncaster Airport.

In terms of aviation communication, the airport is known as Doncaster (Doncaster Radar, Doncaster Tower etc.)

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