Airport boss hits back at criticisms

Robin Hood Airport
Robin Hood Airport

BOSSES at Robin Hood Airport have hit back at a claim the site is facing an uphill battle to ‘justify its existence’.

Paul Kehoe, boss of Birmingham Airport, suggested the Doncaster airport was one of a number of regional airports that have left Britain with twice as many as it needs following a short-lived boom in budget travel.

He said: “As a country, we need very effective airports and scale does matter.

“To be blunt, you’ve got to look long and hard at the likes of Blackpool, Doncaster, Durham and Norwich.”

Steve Gill, managing director at Robin Hood, said Government policy on air passenger duty and other economic factors had caused problems, but defended regional sites.

He said: “Some smaller regional airports are operating in a competitive and challenging environment. The escalation of air passenger duty and fuel costs, combined with a recession, has meant many airlines have become risk averse and they retreat to larger airports which they regard as safe havens.

“The lack of a clear UK aviation framework and Government procrastination has also meant the aviation industry in the UK has stalled, if not regressed. Our European counterparts have cut or abolished air passenger duty and promoted airport development.

“Under these circumstances the larger UK airports are better placed to compete on a global scale - and are using their position to both lobby and position their airports as key gateways. Suggesting smaller airports are not needed is part of this.”

Robin Hood airport passengers peaked at over a million in 2007. They fell to 693,000 last year.

Mr Gill added: “Should the UK fall into the trap of supporting only large airports, it will lead to a monopolistic arena where the regions that do contain airports will develop, while others suffer.”

Over £100m has been invested in the Doncaster airport since it opened in 2005, including a new terminal building.