Booming Doncaster Sheffield Airport has landed its first long haul operator, the boss hinted at the launch of a campaign for a station on the site.
Robert Hough, chairman of Peel Airports, described how the firm had ploughed in more than £200m since 1997 and it was in it for the “long haul.” He then said an announcement was due early next week.
The move would be a huge boost for the business, which flew a record 1.3m people last year - but has capacity for 25m.
Mr Hough was speaking at the launch of a campaign to build an airport station linked to the East Coast Mainline within six years.
He said it would place millions of people a short train ride away, including those in London.
It would create a new international gateway for the whole of the east of England at a time when airports in the South East were reaching capacity.
And at a little over the tenth of the cost of Crossrail, “the argument was invincible.”
He added: “This is rocket fuel for the airport. This is no longer a local conversation, it’s a national debate.”
The scheme, which would require just seven miles of track and demolish no houses, would see passenger and cargo numbers soar and be a catalyst for 70,000 jobs and 8,000 homes, and boost business across the North.
And it could be built by 2024, long before HS2, or even the Heathrow third runway, and sit at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
Now, airport owner Peel and Doncaster Council hope to receive the full backing of Transport for the North as they launch a campaign for government funding.
The project is expected to cost £170m, a fraction of the £15bn cost of Crossrail, £14bn Heathrow runway and £56bn for HS2.
Mr Hough added: “We hope it will predominantly be paid for by Government. But the LEP, the airport and the private sector are likely to have to contribute.”
A feasibility study will be sent to the Department for Transport.
“We expect it to be backed by Transport for the North at the highest level. The timing is right.”