A £6m project to resurface the giant runway at Doncaster Sheffield airport is set to keep its reputation sky high.
Peel Airports, which has already sunk £200m into the site, is paying out again - this time for 13,000 tonnes of asphalt.
For that’s what is needed to cover the 2.2km long, 60m wide landing strip to ensure it can handle the world’s biggest planes - including the largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380, and the undisputed heavyweight, and regular visitor, the Antonov AN 225.
The 20-year-old surface is being replaced by material which is smoother, has better friction and a longer life, it is claimed.
And when the night-time project is complete after four months, the airport can look forward to at least five years of superlative landing for planes from across the world.
That’s according to airfield project manager, Keith Moran, who says its reputation for having one of the best runways in the business - and the second longest in the North - is matched by its ability to land planes in all weathers.
Rarely troubled by fog - unlike Leeds Bradford - and thanks to an array of technology, it can land planes in zero visibility. In fact, no commercial flights were cancelled due to visibility issues in 2016, Mr Moran states.
In November and December last year, DSA won praise from cargo giant DHL when it diverted planes from East Midlands Airport for several weeks.
Doncaster handled half of the firm’s business - up to six planes a day - for several weeks while East Midlands’ runway was resurfaced.
Chris Harcombe, head of aviation development from Doncaster Sheffield Airport said: “Work is now underway on this project to strengthen and resurface our runway.
“We are extremely proud to have one of the longest runways in the North of England and we are working to removing 25mm of surface and replace this with 50mm increasing the strength and overall life span of the runway surface for present and future operations.
“We have worked closely with all of our airline partners and the council to ensure that the works can take place with minimal impact on passenger flights and local traffic.
“This investment from Peel Airports further demonstrates our continued commitment to the Sheffield City Region and the ambition the airport has for the future.
Peel Airports chairman Robert Hough says: “Airports are extraordinarily capital hungry, they require repeated claims on capital to deliver expansion. But when the juggernaut starts to roll, the momentum increases.”
He hopes the site will reach capacity of 25m passengers-a-year, pumping up to £6bn into the region’s economy. But to do that, a lot more money will be needed. Peel wants to divert the East Coast Mainline and build a station on the site, to serve London, at a cost of up to £150m.