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Sheffield City Airport Petition

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Sheffield City Airport Petition

Old 5th Dec 2012, 07:07
  #41 (permalink)  
 
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It wasn't stolen. It was bought for 1, with a whole load of clauses attached. So if someone buys a house for 1, spends a huge amount of time and effort doing it up, and then sells it on for a profit a thief too?
If someone buys a housing estate for 1 in an area in need of housing and then spends a huge amount of time and effort doing it up into a leisure centre, that would be pretty close to stealing. I'd say scrwing the public purse over by getting land for 1 and then turning into something very, very profitable is pretty much stealing because the asset was probably worth significantly more than 1 in the first place. Either way, the money for a link road which had to be spent on condition of an airport being in operation was more-or-less stolen because that airport is not in operation.

Business doesn't work on hopefully and one day. Either there is a business case to do something, in which case someone can give it a go, or there isn't. Even in the case of the former, having a business case and executing it are two different things.
Perhaps you're not in business, but I'm afraid you aren't quite right here. We happen to be in the biggest economic crisis since WWII, which means many investment projects have been put on hold until there will be enough capital available and market demand to make them worthwhile again. Demand isn't fixed when real incomes are decreasing.

Airports don't develop for the sake of a few industrial units. For routes to succeed, they need volume, and they also need that volume to generate the right yields. If a very large bank was moving its whole operations to Sheffield, then it might be slightly different.
The city of Sheffield is not composed 'of a few industrial units' as you might patronisingly suggest. The population is almost 0.6m, having grown significantly since KLM had its great success at SZD in the late 1990s (as you know, their SZD-AMS route was the most successful start-up they had ever experienced) and was then forced to leave due to lack of radar and safety concerns. Demand is there but we see from DSA's chronic lack of business-orientated routes it isn't well placed to take advantage of such demand. Next year, KLM will be operating MSE-AMS and not DSA-AMS! Does that not seem the most ludicrous decision when the population of the whole of East Kent is only slightly larger than that of the city of Sheffield alone?

No it wouldn't. Rail systems are far more than just a case of linking bits of metal. You need to ensure system compatibility and, like the airport itself, you need a business case.

Firstly, branch lines into airports tend to get built when the airport hits somewhere around the 5-20m pax pa mark, clearly well outside the scope of what's been talked about.

Secondly, even if the airport was busy enough, you'd have to take a branch of at Carbrook, thus watering down the service to Meadowhall. Now let's work this one out - serve a thriving (albeit horrid) shopping centre or a tiny airport?
London-Southend's station, opened when it had only a few thousand passengers every month going through, seems to be doing pretty well? Southampton only has small regional jets and similarly has a successful little railway station. Don't get me wrong, I understand it would be difficult in practical terms but in principle there doesn't seem too much wrong.

Sheffield to London trains aren't the best either - they are no quicker than Manchester or Leeds to London, but you do have an hourly headway on the faster services, and overall two trains per hour.

So the plane can't win on overall journey time or frequency to London, and this isn't a loco facility so you can't take the trains on over cost either.
Until HS2 opens in 2033 between Sheffield and London, I'm not sure a true case can be made about time-saving by rail. Smaller airports require less time for check-in/security (like LCY) so I would envisage some benefit by travelling by air. Frankly, though, the world doesn't entirely revolve around London and we should also be looking at flights to other cities like Amsterdam as already mentioned.

Don't get me wrong, in its current shape the airport just won't work. But if they cared to extend the runway a little and put in the necessary investment as Stobart has at Southend then they could see healthy returns.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 09:24
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Aero Mad View Post
Don't get me wrong, in its current shape the airport just won't work. But if they cared to extend the runway a little and put in the necessary investment as Stobart has at Southend then they could see healthy returns.
If someone develops SZD as an airport again, extending the runway, installing navaids, and so on, they could aspire to attracting some regional services, perhaps AMS and DUB. I'm not sure what other routes are going to be economically feasible for airlines - there are fewer and fewer regional carriers around, certainly fewer than when SZD was operating, and those that survive are becoming increasingly risk-averse (for obvious reasons!). So there wouldn't be a large range of possible airline candidates to serve those routes - the list would be pretty short, and if either the guys in blue or the guys in green said "no", the airport business case would be somewhat impaired.

Forgive me for saying it, but that doesn't seem like a lot of return on what would be at the very least several million pounds of investment.

Given the prospective shortage of runway capacity in the southeast, I'm not sure that the comparison with Southend is entirely valid.

And the question which I still have in my mind: if there is indeed a demand for these services from the local area (which I'm perfectly prepared to accept), then why aren't these destinations served from DSA?

C.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 09:53
  #43 (permalink)  
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I know I said I'd leave it, but...

Well they are the FSB, not the FLB.
Small businesses not important? What a stupid thing to suggest.

Airports as going concerns have huge operational costs, so even if the land does have value, better get rid of the thing for 1 than run a loss making airport for donkeys years
The adjacent business park was supposed to subsidise the airport long term, and it wasn't operating at a large operating loss. Are we to assume that DSA will be sold for a 1.00 soon, given the large operating losses there? I think not. SZD wasn't open as a commercial airport for as long as DSA has been.

It was sold to Peel with the promise of a bigger airport at Doncaster, which has thus far failed to support business flights. SZD was in a central location for Sheffield passengers, the conveniance of time saved going to DSA is little compared to going to MAN for greater choice.

Its worth pointing out that it is a number of Sheffield business leaders who are concerned with the circumstances surrounding the closure of SZD.

there are fewer and fewer regional carriers around, certainly fewer than when SZD was operating
I'm not sure thats correct. With a tweaking of facilities I can think of quite a few airlines well suited to such a facility.

I will leave it there. The airport wont reopen for passenger flights because of the way the business park has been developed, however all options should be considered including reopening the facility for GA and business aviation before the runway is ripped up for good.

Last edited by pug; 5th Dec 2012 at 09:55.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 11:58
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Perhaps you're not in business, but I'm afraid you aren't quite right here.
Perhaps I am in business or perhaps I am just applying a cold, hard, accountants' look at the realities?

many investment projects have been put on hold until there will be enough capital available and market demand to make them worthwhile again.
Yet the opportunity was there for this airport to work prior to the economic mess. DSA too opened at a time of economic growth, with promises of 5m pax pa, and this just hasn't happened.

Demand is there but we see from DSA's chronic lack of business-orientated routes it isn't well placed to take advantage of such demand.
If the demand is strong enough, KLM would have opened DSA-AMS. After all, what does the S in DSA stand for? Why haven't they started this route?

Even if SZD could re-open with a 3x or even 5x daily to AMS, is that enough to sustain the kind of costs needed to run the place? What other destinations could realistically work?

ludicrous decision when the population of the whole of East Kent is only slightly larger than that of the city of Sheffield alone?
Population alone is not a dictator of viability. MSE happens to be much closer to AMS, so maybe a direct hop will make sense - or maybe not, let's see.

London-Southend's station, opened when it had only a few thousand passengers every month going through, seems to be doing pretty well?
Opened on:

(a) a line already going right past the terminal
(b) a line that is going TO somewhere (ie Southend Victoria, so no extension needed).

Also, there already were 8 trains per hour, on a stopping line, so they just had to add an additional stop. Generally, this would be complete overkill for a service terminating at an airport that size.

Southampton only has small regional jets and similarly has a successful little railway station.
Yes, but it has lots of them, going to many different destinations at a high frequency. It also effectively acts as a "London Southampton", given ease of rail access + M3 from Waterloo, Surrey etc.

Don't get me wrong, I understand it would be difficult in practical terms but in principle there doesn't seem too much wrong.
Sorry, but in principle there is EVERYTHING wrong with talking about a tram link to the airport. Firstly, the airport has to re-open, then it would have to project levels of passenger numbers well in excess of either LCY or SOU, then you can start to think about it.

Small businesses not important? What a stupid thing to suggest.
I never said that, just said they spoke for small businesses not large ones. Frankly, I think their attitude on this project is extremely naive. If there is any prospect of the airport re-opening it will need small, medium and large businesses to use it, to use it very often, and to pay very high costs to do so.

Sorry that I just don't see it.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 12:01
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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Never heard so much cobblers - the runway is low code/category
at best, tiny in commercial terms. There's virtually no hope of licensed length extensions were one to comply with minimum Runway End Safety Area (RESA) requirements. It doesn't even have the current requisite minima for clear, flat strip either side - there's a whopping great ditch within just 65m of the edge of the runway.

Only any use for light GA traffic, a few King Airs and PC-XIIs, perhaps, no business jets on a commercial charter/public transport basis.

For airline work you will be limited to Twin Otters and Dornier 228s with 19 seats (maybe Let 410) - not Jetstreams (J31).

Just hopeless, nothing commercially viable can use that runway length. Nobody these days is going to get old Dash-8-100 series aircraft working commerciallly again either (which used to go into Plymouth) - which might just get in with restricted payload in and out. All the Saabs, ATRs, Fokkers, Jetstreams etc, all need more runway. And if it's 'WET', just forget anything.

Stop wasting time on this. Will only make a nice little GA strip but costs of operation very unlikely to be recouped from aviation-related revenues, only peripherl, no-aviation property-related income, if the opportunity is there for the airport operator.

Just mad that anyone seriously thinks it's viable! What were the licenced TORA and LDA whe it was operational?
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 12:13
  #46 (permalink)  
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It may surprise you then fairflyer, that the types you claim that cannot operate passenger services from the airport, actually did so successfully for a few years.

Like I say, scheduled flights wont happen now. If someone can make a business case for it (as some obviously believe they can) then all options should be considered before the airfield is gone for good.

Frankly, I think their attitude on this project is extremely naive
What is their attitude? Have you spoken with them, or are you simply going off the statement on the petition website?

Last edited by pug; 5th Dec 2012 at 12:30.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 12:56
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Sorry Pug, accepted that some of those types went in once before, but rules have changed since then, more constrainining, more limiting. EASA progressively toughening up on minima etc.

All those smaller aircraft types are that much older too, costing more to operate, less spares etc. whilst economic environment is horrible, APD charges ever higher (which hurts the smaller aircraft more), ETS introduced - everything against the small regonal operator with small regional airliners.

Just too tough at that level to make a living, or for that matter simply survive.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 13:02
  #48 (permalink)  
 
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What is their attitude? Have you spoken with them, or are you simply going off the statement on the petition website?
Well if you must:

Firstly, I'd start by putting the petition on the council's own website:

Opens with:

In light of the fast-developing Advanced Manufacturing Park,
In the past Sheffield City Airport facilitated daily shuttle services to European capitals: services which were demonstrably viable in commercial terms.
So the list of European capitals included DUB + BRU & AMS, all within range of the puddle jumpers. Most other European capitals were excluded due to range issues, whereas CDG, which would have been within range, never started.

Since then, commercial aviation in the region has switched to the Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. This has established a growing and successful programme of leisure and tourism flights to holiday destinations
The only time DSA was growing was when it started from a zero baseline.

However, it is not suitably placed to provide the fast-turnaround easy-access short-haul flights
DSA is perfectly capable of turning around aircraft very quickly, and of providing a very short walk from kerb to aircraft. Clearly, there are other reasons why it doesn't have more business routes that can't be explained by it being a bit further away from Sheffield than SZD.

We perceive that two airports within the Sheffield City Region, each with its own commercial and operational focus, can jointly meet the economic and social needs of the travelling public.
They might perceive that, but the market is clearly struggling to support one airport. Therefore I rest my case.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 13:05
  #49 (permalink)  
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That is fair enough fairflyer, however with the extension having been approved things may have been different.

That said, passenger flights aren't everything in this case, and it has been suggested in the past that the airport was close to paying for itself and even turning a small profit in the later years with all the business and GA/business activity on site. However certain clauses with the developer consigned the airport to be a loss maker for obvious reasons. The information is not publicly available, and it should be, given the nature of the situation.

Nobody can honestly argue that all options were considered prior to closure, given the owners conflicting interests up the road!?

The only time DSA was growing was when it started from a zero baseline.
That is incorrect.

Jabird, what is the competitive advantage to using DSA over MAN for a Sheffield business passenger? I see nothing wrong with what they have said on the petition website, and I cant imagine them giving DSA a public slating on there even if they wanted to.

I dont know but..

Perhaps I am in business or perhaps I am just applying a cold, hard, accountants' look at the realities?
I find that statement naive, unless you have seen and assessed the actual airport accounts.

I'm definately going to leave it there. I hope this petition opens discussion again, certainly if there are some solid facts about the airport accounts made public then I am open to changing my opinion on the matter, as would others be I'm sure. Crucially, such a discussion it could possibly even help DSA in its attempts to establish such traffic there. Until then this is just going to go around in circles.

Last edited by pug; 5th Dec 2012 at 13:26.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 21:18
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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This was the view of York Aviation Consultancy back in 2005 when, at the behest of the City Council, they conducted an independant assessment into the future viability of the airport

3. Is the airport financially viable?

There is little likelihood of the airport attaining financial viability in the foreseeable future under any scenario. Annual losses at the airport reached over 1.1m in 2001, reducing to 230,000 in 2003 following cost saving measures implemented by the operator. Even given the most optimistic scenarios, the airport is predicted to continue to make substantial losses for the foreseeable future.

All of the airlines consulted said that the physical limitations (principally runway length) was a fundamental impediment to commercial airline operations, with many of the commonly used regional turboprop aircraft subject to payload and range limitations. None of the airlines were considering operations in the short to medium term and all indicated that they would need powerful financial incentives to do so. All regarded the operations as high risk, particularly given the failure of the earlier scheduled services to achieve long-term viability.

Any proposal to extend the runway would result in breaches to the noise conditions and airfield safety requirements given the built up area around the airport site. There are therefore no realistic development options that could overcome the fundamental operational constraints.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 22:15
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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They had to raise the level of the site before building the runway in the first place so I'm sure they could fill some ditches if required for latest regs. There's also space to extend the runway.

A tram link wouldn't have to terminate at the airport, it could continue to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (currently woefully served by public transport or cycle paths), Catcliffe (further housing developments also under way) and perhaps a decent Park and Ride facility to get M1 drivers out of their cars and into the city centre quickly and easily. The existing tram network is not at capacity so these services could supplement rather than replace those to Meadowhall.

The HS2 station for South Yorkshire may well end up at Tinsley Yard so the opportunity is there for a fantastic 'Sheffield Parkway' setup with business flights, high speed rail, light rail and motorway connection.
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Old 5th Dec 2012, 23:05
  #52 (permalink)  
 
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It sounds ideal, but I think 'fantastic', in its original sense, is the word.

Last edited by johnnychips; 5th Dec 2012 at 23:06.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 21:02
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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The only time DSA was growing was when it started from a zero baseline.
That is incorrect.
Incorrect because you say so, or because you have a different version of events to the published facts?

Having opened in 2005, there was natural growth with 2006 being a full year, and then a peak in 2007 - ie it went up from a zero baseline. After this, 3 of the following 4 years have been in decline, with a small blip in 2010 due to Easyjet coming, and then very rapidly growing.

Talk was of 5m, so DSA is well short of that.
A tram link wouldn't have to terminate at the airport, it could continue to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (currently woefully served by public transport or cycle paths),
Firstly, there's a lot more to cycling infrastructure than token cycle paths, but that's one for JB! Sheffield is at least home of the "Sheffield" cycle parking stand, but apart from that it really isn't much of a city to cycle in.

As for terminating at airport, yes I agree - always far easier to ask for a stop than to ask for a new route to be created. However, you still need enough combined volume to make the route work.

I suspect there's more interest in extending Supertram east towards Rotherham Central, but even if it did go through the airport, with 10 stops from Carbrook to Cathedral, how many business users would bother? In all honestly, this is would be (big would) an airport for cars and taxis (and I say that as someone who rarely uses either).

a decent Park and Ride facility to get M1 drivers out of their cars
Park and Ride works best when the parking is easy and the ride is both fast and frequent. Would Meadowhall not make more sense for that?

opportunity is there for a fantastic 'Sheffield Parkway' setup with business flights, high speed rail, light rail and motorway connection.
Sorry, but as JC is saying, nice idea, what's the reality? I'm all for integrated "superhubs", but you have to bring transport modes together that people actually want to make changes between.

So I hate to state the obvious, but if HS2 is really about integrated transport, it needs to call at Sheffield City Centre. Otherwise it is just even more of a waste of time than it already is (apologies again for saying something that belongs in JB).
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Old 9th Dec 2012, 22:07
  #54 (permalink)  
 
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fairflyer: Well summed-up. No hope of licenced extension of runway length no doubt due to the recent RESA provisions, which could well cut down on what applied before. Runway dimension was 3972ft/1211 meters, but from memory the LDA was less from certainly one end, maybe both. I have a figure of around 3600ft in my memory.
One poster talks about an extension, but at one end miles of factory/warehouse/housing, and at the other a drop down in level towards the Parkway road and the M1 motorway, and if my memory serves, an area of land containing some quite meaty electricity pylons. Must have been "sweaty palms" landing there in a single, at least approaching over the east end of Sheffield.
I dont have an answer to the commercial passenger flights question, but for business/executive flights it would appear to be either Finningley, not too far away down the M1 and M18, or Gamston, a little further away, using the M1, M18 and A1.
My namesake EGCA, Coal Aston airfield, is a non-starter for business flights despite being no more than 15 minutes from the industrial east end of Sheffield. EGCA has an undulating grass runway of 2400ft, but the planning consent stipulates a weekly maximum number of movements, around 20 from memory, and is strictly PPO with the owners/operators needing to move grazing animals at times.
So, if you run a business in Sheffield and want to take a scheduled airline flight to say Europe, you still have a lengthy journey to a major airport with a good selection of flights. I really dont see this situation changing.
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Old 10th Dec 2012, 17:22
  #55 (permalink)  
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Not wading back in, but an interesting update from the FSB.

Airport saga takes a new twist

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has been supporting a campaign to defer the development of the former Sheffield City Airport site. The FSB has suggested that an embargo be placed on the development until an independent public enquiry is held to look into the future of commercial aviation in the Region.

A petition has been initiated aimed at the local small business community which has attracted over 1,300 signatories, which was met with a deluge of misleading statements in the media reflecting a notion that the airport was closed due to it being commercially unviable an argument which the FSB has consistently contested.

A new twist in the airport saga has now occurred with the news that a potential bidder has made himself known to the FSB, who wishes to buy the airport from its existing owners and reopen it as a regional aviation facility. As well as contracting with airlines to operate scheduled flights to other UK and European cities, the bidder plans to offer flight training, air taxi and business charter services, and intends to include a restaurant and other leisure facilities in a redeveloped terminal.

The bid would be subject to the full support of the Sheffield City Council, including provision of all the necessary planning consents, to turn the property back into an airport and a realistic price being agreed between the present owners of the airport site and terminal building, with all existing infrastructure intact.

The bidder is locally-based but has other aviation interests within the UK.
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Old 10th Dec 2012, 20:34
  #56 (permalink)  
 
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Licensed Runway Length

I'm fairly sure all you would end up with today at Sheffield is a Code 2B runway which will stretch to licensed lengths of 1199m max (3,934ft) regardless of how much physical tarmac is there now or could be added at either end.

Runway length simply dictates everything when you are down at that level in terms of commercial opportunities.

Sorry, but that isn't enough to do anything serious on the regional airliner front or business aviation front.

Whoever is wishing for all this is completely blind, ignorant, misled or arrogant.

Do the runway performance assesment, please, before taking this any further. Confirm the above, ask the 'experts' what aircrafft can use that length on an AOC/commercially, and how many passsengers and how much fuel you can get out AND IN - it's the landing weight constraints that will kill most dead.
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Old 10th Dec 2012, 20:45
  #57 (permalink)  
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Barton is the only airport Peel has owned that is in profit. Its longest runway is grass and is shorter than Sheffield City's.

If someone already involved in aviation is ready to make an offer, its a bit ignorant to suggest they are not well versed in the runway constraints.

Is it not best to wait for more news on this before calling people arrogant, ignorant or mislead?
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Old 10th Dec 2012, 22:30
  #58 (permalink)  
 
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Is it not best to wait for more news on this before calling people arrogant, ignorant or mislead?
Well I'll have a go based on what we know from this statement. I'll stick with my original naive, there is nothing arrogant about wanting to re-open an airport for business. If they can pull it off it would be against all the odds, and these are a few reasons why:
reflecting a notion that the airport was closed due to it being commercially unviable an argument which the FSB has consistently contested.
Let's look at destinations previously served: BHD, AMS, BRU, DUB, JER - so those five may or may not return. Realistically, how many more might be added on top? Best case?

More to the point, LCY was served before, these shorter routes are much harder to justify now, gone from LPL & MAN, barely got started at LBA, never happened at MME, was it 3 months at NCL. So why would it work at SZD? London tends to be quite useful to the business case for any regional airport.

Also, an airport being "viable" - as in able to turn a profit, and being able to turn a better profit than other uses of the land are two different things.

and intends to include a restaurant and other leisure facilities in a redeveloped terminal.
Well I would hope that a terminal of any kind has some form of catering. As for leisure facilities, what the hell are they on about? This is a STOLPORT - in quickly, out quickly.

If they want amusement options, plenty in the corridor between city centre and Meadowhall, and there's always Magna Park! Hence I repeat the term "naive".

The bid would be subject to the full support of the Sheffield City Council, including provision of all the necessary planning consents,
Again, grossly naive.

You can't put a bid together like that (in public) and just demand planning consent. Either it already has it, or it has lapsed, in which case fresh application needed, possibly going to a long and costly public inquiry, as there will be green objections. Can anyone confirm current status?

I can tell you from experience at CVT that you certainly don't go around proposing a larger terminal. Either the existing one does the job or forget it. Why would it need to be redeveloped anyway?

and a realistic price being agreed
Realistic on who's terms? Considering this would be competing with DSA, and that other uses are already being line up, I can't see any chance of this "realistic" price being reached. So again, grossly naive. Either the "market" rate is paid, or bean counter says no.
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Old 10th Dec 2012, 22:42
  #59 (permalink)  
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Again this is all supposition as no real details have been confirmed, not least who the buyer may be.

Is there anything wrong with waiting for more to be announced before branding the FSB and as yet unknown 'potential buyer' as naive?

Last edited by pug; 10th Dec 2012 at 22:50.
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Old 10th Dec 2012, 22:54
  #60 (permalink)  
 
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Is there anything wrong with waiting for more to be announced before branding the FSB and as yet unknown 'potential buyer' as naive?
Err, yes! This is a rumour network, we don't wait for official announcements

As per my above comments, they are made on information that has been placed in the public domain.

If you'd said "ABC Holdings has been having a behind the scenes chat with a top councillor from Sheffield and been given the wink that all would be ok, AND their offer of z million has been tentatively accepted", then it would be very different.

FSB have made these statements, I have responded. So you can't then call it conjecture! Leave that to PPFN!
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