Anytime now, a travesty is about to take place in Sheffield which could have repercussions for many years to come.
I refer to the digging up of the runway at the now dormant Sheffield City Airport which has been made possible by a £1.8m Government loan.
A large amount of public money was originally used to build the airport’s infrastructure and it beggars belief that even more will be spent on destroying it.
We live in a different world to 2008 when Sheffield’s airport was closed down and due to aeronautical technical advances, and more importantly business demand, a local regional airport is essential for a city our size.
We are the largest city in Europe without an airport.
The much vaunted Doncaster Robin Hood Airport is not serving the needs of the business community and is showing little sign of improvement.
The new proposed FARRRS link road will fall 2½ miles short of the actual airport cutting journey times only by about 10 minutes. Talk of 20 minutes from Sheffield to Doncaster Airport is a complete fallacy and physically impossible.
Passenger figures of over 2m are projected for 2014 at Doncaster, which is highly unlikely considering that only 690,000 were carried in 2013. Compare this with Manchester’s 20.7m, East Midland’s 4.3m and Leeds/Bradford’s 3.3m.
Worse still are the cargo figures. Total freight moved at Doncaster last year was 354 tonnes, compare this with East Midland’s 266,968 tonnes! East Midlands is the main freight handler in the North of England and DHL, FedEx, TNT and UPS all operate from there. There is no reason or incentive for them to re-locate to Doncaster.
Airlines cannot be forced to move to Doncaster and operators would have no reason to run more flights from there with such a small catchment area.
Only 4m people live within 60 minutes and 8m within 90 minutes, but then many of these are closer to other airports.
There are many myths surrounding Sheffield City Airport, the main one being that the runway is too short. London City Airport has a similar size runway and handles 3½m passengers a year. All the myths and the facts can be checked out on www.savesheffieldcityairport.org
Regional airports are the way forward.
The M1 runs right past Sheffield City Airport’s doorstep, as will HS2 in the future, creating a transport hub which most cities could only dream of owning.
Wake up Sheffield - before it’s too late!