These are the abandoned airports in the UK that may potentially be revived.

These are the abandoned airports in the UK that may potentially be revived.

Several airports in the United Kingdom have shown great resilience despite the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, and Stansted have all experienced significant increases in traffic. Heathrow, the busiest airport in the UK, reported a record high of 200,000 passengers per day in February.

However, there are smaller airports in the United Kingdom that do not reach an annual number of 200,000 passengers. These airports often depend on financial aid from the government for their survival, due to both social and economic factors. For example, Highlands and Islands Airports, which manages 11 airports in Scotland, received a total of £56 million in subsidy during the most recent fiscal year- averaging at a substantial £40 per passenger.

Unfortunately, other airports have not been as fortunate. In the past hundred years, six airports in England have closed, with the most recent being Doncaster Sheffield. After sixteen months of having no passengers, the airport in South Yorkshire is now undergoing a rescue attempt.

What are the airports that are no longer functioning and which ones have the potential to be restored? These are the main inquiries and responses.

The six airports that have closed to commercial flights this century

Sheffield City

The initial flights at the primary South Yorkshire airport commenced in 1998, providing domestic routes to London City, Belfast City, and Jersey. It also had international connections with Amsterdam, Brussels, and Dublin. Unfortunately, these routes were gradually terminated, and the last flight to and from Belfast City took place in August 2002.

Is it possible for it to be reopened? Unfortunately, no. The site has been incorporated into Sheffield Business Park.

Baginton aerodrome, located southeast of Coventry, has been in operation since 1936. In 2004, Tui, a large tour operator, made the decision to establish their low-cost airline, Thomsonfly, at the airport by purchasing it.

The initial idea was that utilizing its own airport would be more cost-effective and convenient compared to Birmingham, which is 13 miles to the west, or East Midlands, which is 33 miles north.

The facilities consisted of a disordered assortment of temporary structures. Following the success of easyJet and Ryanair, Thomsonfly was launched as a delayed and poorly executed reaction, and for the next four years, it operated a fairly Mediterranean-focused route network from Coventry. Even Wizz Air began offering flights to Gdansk and Katowice. However, in 2008, when the High Court rejected the proposal for a permanent terminal, Thomsonfly permanently closed.

Tui currently has a thriving presence at Birmingham airport, but faces competition from easyJet, Ryanair, and Jet2.

Is it possible for it to open again? Coventry airport is still operating as an aerodrome for small private planes. There are currently no plans to bring back commercial flights.

First day of operation for Thomsonfly at Coventry airport’s temporary terminal.

Plymouth City

The airport that was located north of the city center first began operation in 1925. Similar to other smaller airports, it was removed from the British Airways flight schedule during a reduction of domestic routes. During my single visit in 2004, the overall experience was peaceful as there were only nine passengers on my Air Southwest flight to Gatwick (179 miles away), which included a stop at Newquay (39 miles away) en route. Other routes available from this airport were to Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle, Jersey, and Cardiff. While Cardiff is only 75 miles away by air, it is more than twice the distance by road or rail. Unfortunately, by 2011, the airport had closed down.

Is it possible for the airport to be operational again? This is definitely the case according to Tudor Evans, the leader of Plymouth city council. In the previous month, he expressed, “We are a significant city, with aspirations to develop and flourish, and an airport is a crucial component of that progress.”

Is there a chance for failure? The previous RAF Manston is situated in the northeastern area of Kent, on the Isle of Thanet. This location offers a significant edge for Manston airport, with Frankfurt, Luxembourg, and Amsterdam being at least 20 minutes closer compared to Heathrow. As an airport with low traffic and situated in an isolated part of Kent, 66 miles away from the heart of London, Manston avoids traffic jams on the ground and in the busy airspace over London – which is known as the busiest air-traffic control space in the world.

It is convenient to reach from the capital using the M2 and A299 (which extends to Thanet). Ramsgate station is only a 79-minute ride from London St Pancras thanks to the HS1 rail line, and the airport is located just five minutes away.

Numerous efforts to operate regular flights from Manston have been unsuccessful. In September 2004, I was on the inaugural EUjet flight to Dublin; the airline ceased operations the following July. Flybe has also gone bankrupt twice since then. Prior to that, Flybe cancelled its flights from Manston to Edinburgh and Belfast.

The Amsterdam flight operated by KLM left from Manston, but did not bring in profits. The last planned flight from Manston to Amsterdam was on April 9th, 2014. Since then, the airport has been used as a truck park for managing traffic disruptions related to Brexit in Kent.

Can it be reopened? RiverOak Strategic Partners intends to revive Manston Airport as a profitable hub for air freight, of national importance, with additional passenger and engineering services.

Sadly, EUjet’s launch at Manston airport was short-lived, lasting less than a year due to financial struggles and its use of Fokker 100 planes.

In 2014, smaller airports in the UK did not have a successful year. Manston airport closed and Blackpool airport, located on the Lancashire coast, was struggling with scheduled flights. Squire’s Gate airport had a diverse past, with various routes being added and taken away, such as a popular Ryanair flight to Stansted, a charter program with Tui to the Mediterranean, and a prop-jet connection to Biggin Hill airfield situated on the border of London and Kent. The introduction of direct trains from Blackpool to London may have been the deciding factor in the closure of the airport. The last flights with passengers departed in October 2015.

Is there a possibility for it to be reopened? Blackpool is currently flourishing and welcoming both private and business flights. In the year 2022, it had a higher volume of flights compared to Teesside, Leeds Bradford, Bournemouth, and Southampton. However, the possibility of increasing passenger flights seems unlikely with Manchester airport being only 85 minutes away by direct train.

Doncaster Sheffield

In 1995, RAF Finningley, located six miles from Doncaster and 19 miles from Sheffield, ceased operations. Ten years later, it was reopened as Robin Hood airport with Tui supporting its establishment as a budget-friendly departure point for UK travelers. However, the airport faced tough competition from four other airports within an hour’s drive: 28 miles from Humberside, 38 miles from Leeds Bradford, 46 miles from East Midlands, and 53 miles from Manchester. By 2022, DSA, as it became known, was forced to shut down. The airport’s owner, Peel Group, stated that they had not received any feasible proposals to address its financial struggles. Despite promises from then-prime minister Liz Truss to safeguard the airport and its infrastructure, it was unable to stay afloat. Its final flights landed in November 2022.

Is it possible for it to be reopened? Yes, a deal has been signed by Doncaster’s mayor, Ros Jones of the Labour party, for the local council to manage the airport. However, it is uncertain which airport operator may be interested in running DSA or which airlines will operate there.

Being sustained by financial assistance

The UK has multiple airports that are able to operate due to significant financial support.

Prestwick, Scotland

Prestwick, a charming airport located southwest of Glasgow, holds a special distinction as being the only British land that Elvis Presley ever stepped foot on. This was during a refueling stop for a US military flight from Germany to the US. For many years, Prestwick was a popular choice for transatlantic travel with daily departures to New York offered by British Airways. However, its location on the stunning Ayrshire coast proved to be inconvenient for many Scottish travelers and as a result, routes gradually declined. In 1995, Ryanair made a significant move by introducing a new domestic route from Prestwick to London Stansted for a mere £19. Even today, Ryanair remains the sole commercial operator at Prestwick, typically conducting two to three flights per day. Owned by the Scottish government, plans are in place to eventually return Prestwick to private ownership.

Are you traveling? Prestwick offers a few daily flights operated by Ryanair.

Teesside, England

The airport, which had a railway station with only two weekly trains, was in a state of crisis when Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen decided to take it back under public ownership instead of allowing Peel Holdings to demolish it and construct residential buildings. Teesside was the first airport in the United Kingdom to eliminate the 100ml restriction on liquids in carry-on baggage. Other than that, the only noteworthy feature is the Amsterdam connection twice a day and sporadic Ryanair flights. In the previous year, the airport incurred a loss of £2.26m, equivalent to £10 per passenger.

Cardiff, Wales

In the last 20 years, the number of passengers at Cardiff Airport has decreased by approximately half, while Bristol Airport has seen a doubling in traffic during the same period. Although Cardiff’s airport is located southwest of the city, it is facing difficulty in regaining the pre-pandemic levels of passenger activity. While most airports in the UK experienced growth in 2023 compared to the previous year, recent data from the Civil Aviation Authority shows a slight decline in passenger numbers at Cardiff – with only 837,000 individuals using the airport.

The Welsh government granted £5.3m to offset the losses of £4.5m reported in the period up to March 2023.

City of Derry, Northern Ireland

“CoDA” is a superb gateway to the city of Derry/Londonderry, as well as County Donegal in the republic. But as the third Northern Ireland airport, after Belfast International and George Best Belfast City, it has always faced challenges. Keeping the airport going costs over £3m annually, and the local council is seeking further funding from Stormont.