Today I, along with Oliver Coppard, the South Yorkshire Mayor, have written to the owners of Doncaster Sheffield Airport to urge them to seriously consider offers for the purchase of the site which could safeguard its future.
Senior Officers have been working tirelessly around the clock, practically seven days a week to bring interested investors to Peel’s door so they can negotiate a deal to sell.
We have not been able to divulge details of the significant amount of work going on but we feel we are now at a point where we should make it clear that our efforts have found several highly interested parties who want to progress a potential purchase of the airport.
Although we cannot, for commercial reasons, reveal who exactly the interested parties are, they have the commercial and financial pedigree Peel demands ranging from an overseas conglomerate of businesses and investors, a large global asset investment business to a regional airport owner/operator. These investors we have found collectively, have had productive conversations with and developed their considerable interest. We have already shared their details and credentials with Peel. Now we need Peel to be reasonable and give them the time they have asked for to have those detailed negotiations. We hope this could lead to a successful solution and match for DSA.
These investors have told us they believe the airport is viable. They see a future for DSA as an airport and want to negotiate with Peel but need more time to complete complex legal and financial requirements, as is normal in any deal and particularly so with one of this size and scale.
Peel needs to reconsider the closure and stop winding down DSA. They need to accept the public sector offer to cover their losses for 13 months while negotiations of a sale are progressed and concluded. We have also this week offered to extend that period within which the financial support could be used to 24 months.
We have also spoken to existing airline and commercial operators who use DSA who have said that they would remain if Peel reversed the closure. There is also considerable interest from new airlines, freight and other aviation industries that would like to use and invest in the airport and would do if Peel would end this uncertainty and negotiate.
It is extremely disappointing that Peel has created an atmosphere of scepticism, worry and concern that has badly influenced and impacted the aviation industry, including innovators who are looking to develop future growth and expertise. We of course are acutely aware of the devastating impact on those 800 people whose jobs are on the line and the further 1900 jobs which could be impacted by the closure in industries that rely on the airport.
The issue we have is that Peel is a reluctant seller. They have not put DSA on the market or actively sought new owners. Their actions have clearly underlined that view so we urgently need the Prime Minister to step in, use her powers and her influence to prevent closure in early November. DSA is a significant asset to Doncaster and this country.
We are of course continuing to talk to Peel in good faith as we have always done. This week we have also made it clear to them that if there is no collaborative arrangement for the airport’s future due to their unreasonable closure timescale, the council is prepared to initiate the process for a Compulsory Purchase Order of the airport and investigate if we can go to the courts for a Judicial Review of Peel’s decision to close.
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