30 November 2022, Virtual
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
ON TOUR: DSA ” Robin Hood Airport ” It”s Up and Running
Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. Whether Peel Holdings Plc stole the name Robin Hood Airport ” Doncaster Sheffield from the owners of another landing place 50 miles down the road, now known as Nottingham East Midlands, is open to discussion. Maybe the battle will be fought on the football fields of England next soccer season when the mighty Rovers of Doncaster take on the Forest of Nottingham, descendents of a mightier band who once ruled over the whole of Europe. In a sense Nottingham has already lost out. The information desk at Robin Hood Airport is full of leaflets promoting Sherwood, craftily telling customers that maybe they have come to the wrong airport. But they have come to Robin Hood!
ABTN has already reported on the airport (25 April) just before its opening. If, as rumour has it, some government department is engaged in a campaign to reduce what is known as street furniture they had better get up to Yorkshire. There must be 10,000 (perhaps a slight exaggeration) signs in the region, all proclaiming Robin Hood and its happy bunch of flyers, surely the biggest airport promotion of all time. And there is no problem with the natives complaining of the noise from Boeing 737s and the like. Finningley, to give the airport its RAF name, used to be the home of the mighty Vulcan, with its four unsilenced Olympus engines one of the nosiest aircraft of all time.
Getting to the new airport could not be easier. From the A1 going north take the A614 through the delightful small market town of Bawtry (which looks good for eating places ” the airport lacks a proper restaurant ” there is a small and busy coffee shop landside and if you get stuck in the departure lounge there is a place for food) and within ten minutes you will be in the village of Finningley, a typical former military township shaping up for a prosperous future.
Parking at the airport is easy, reminiscent of Stansted when it first opened. Plenty of spaces right in front of the terminal. Once again the airport builders have been frugal with the lack of any protection for passengers arriving in inclement weather. Maybe the Manchester-based owners were not aware that it blows and rains in Yorkshire. A canopy over the roadway is urgently required. Visit Birmingham T1 to see how it should be done.
First impressions are of a smaller version of Stansted, the last full size airport to open in the UK, and also an ex-Bomber Command base. But you would be wrong. Robin Hood is a two level operation with escalators linking the ground floor check-in area to security and the large departure lounge. There are no air bridges but should a carrier demand that would be no problem. The baggage arrangements ensure quick loading and equally speedy delivery to the waiting passengers in the airside arrivals hall. With a nearly 3000m runway 93m wide there is no limit on the aircraft type using the facility even the Airbus A380. One advantage for operators is that Doncaster is directly beneath controlled airspace. Operational delays should be limited. One million passengers are expected to use Robin Hood in the first year. Eleven scheduled airports are served by three Thomsonfly-based 737s plus a Ryanair Boeing rotating through Dublin. Already on sale are flights to Dominican Republic, Mexico and Florida for summer 2006 flown by a Thomsomfly long range 757. Sixteen destinations are served by charter flights for the summer of 2005.
Rather like Liverpool, Robin Hood Airport is making use of every opportunity to put itself on the airline and tourist industry map. Last week a specially chartered Thomsonfly Boeing 737-300 flew into the airport carrying 140 delegates from 37 different French airports to the annual 'French Connect Conference' this year held at the Hilton Sheffield. Ten European airlines addressed them on issues concerning the French aviation market. Local officials used the occasion as an ideal opportunity to put Doncaster on the map adopting the Boeing with an official name linking it to the town. (from left to right) David Ryall, Managing Director of of Robin Hood Airport, Mayor of Doncaster Martin Winter, Alex Hunter, Chief Commercial Officer for Thomsonfly, Susan Law, Managing Director Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Peter Nears, Strategic Director for Peel Holdings Ltd with the new 'Spirit of Doncaster' aircraft.
Robin Hood says that its target is 9m passengers annually by 2030, not an unreasonable goal. As noted, getting to the airport is no problem but when you have a supportive local council administrative problems just melt away. Already approved is a 3.5 mile link road from the M18 J3 directly into the car park, which could be ready as early as 2008. http://www.robinhoodairport.com