When the former RAF Finningley was re-launched in April 2005 as Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield (a name the good people of Nottingham are far from happy about), Thomsonfly became the airport’s first, and so far only, carrier to base aircraft at the airport. In the first year of operations the airline carried 750,000 of the airport’s 840,000 passengers.
|Source: UK CAA Airport Data|
After that explosive start traffic has continued to grow and in 2007 annual traffic was up 18% and passed the one million mark much to the delight of airport owners the Peel Group (which also owns Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Durham Tees Valley Airport). Other airlines now offering scheduled services from the airport include Flybe, Ryanair and Wizz Air.
|FIFA President Sepp Blatter (second left) flew into Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield in October 2007 for his first visit to South Yorkshire, ahead of celebrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Sheffield FC – the world’s oldest football club.|
European cities give way to longer-haul beach destinations
Only four routes have been operated by Thomsonfly during every season since summer 2005. These are the perennially popular Alicante, Faro and Malaga, as well as Jersey in the Channel Islands. A number of traditional ‘city-break’ destinations have been tried and found wanting. These include Amsterdam, Dublin (where Ryanair provided tough opposition), Paris, Pisa, Prague and Valencia. The most recent routes to be abandoned were Amsterdam (last flight 31 October 2007) and Prague (last flight 6 January 2008).
Ryanair also dropped a Pisa service and easyJet briefly served Geneva during the winter of 2005/06, though Thomsonfly has now started this route itself in mid-December and operates five weekly flights. This is its second ski route as Salzburg is served weekly. Back in winter 2005 Lyon was served as a ski destination but the route was dropped the following winter.
|David Pogson (left) celebrated becoming Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield’s two-millionth passenger last year. Airport managing director David Ryall presented him with eight complimentary return economy flights to Belfast City, courtesy of Flybe, together with a bottle of champagne.|
Growing charter programme
Thomsonfly currently has three aircraft based at the airport – one 737-800 and two 737-300s. This winter it is operating medium-haul flights to Gran Canaria, Tenerife South, Lanzarote and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt. For summer the airline adds Ibiza and Palma as ‘scheduled’ services and adds a range of ‘charter’ flights at low frequency.
|Destination||Period||Days of operation|
|Bodrum||25 May – 28 September||Sunday|
|Bourgas||27 May – 30 September||Tuesday|
|Corfu||2 May – 31 October||Friday|
|Dalaman||5 May – 30 October||Monday, Thursday|
|Heraklion||25 May – 2 November||Sunday|
|Larnaca||4 May – 2 November||Sunday|
|Mahon (Minorca)||23 May – 31 October||Monday, Friday|
|Naples||5 May – 27 October||Monday|
|Paphos||19 March – 29 October||Wednesday|
|Reus||3 May – 1 November||Saturday|
|Rhodes||21 May – 29 October||Wednesday|
|Zakynthos||26 May – 27 October||Monday|
|Source: Thomsonfly website|
Thanks to its 2,891-metre runway long-haul flights are possible from Doncaster/Sheffield. In previous years Florida (Sanford) and the Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata) were served, but there is no sign of these destinations being offered by Thomsonfly in summer 2008.