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Mayor calls for fewer flights overall – but more from Sheffield

South Yorkshire's leaders say they want a "thriving" Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with no mention of the looming climate emergency.

Robin hood airport

Doncaster Sheffield Airport not long after opening in 2006.

Wendy North on Wikimedia Commons.

As the UK experiences its hottest day on record, South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard has called for fewer flights overall – but more from Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA).

Coppard was responding to news that the owners of the airport have said it’s no longer commercially viable and may close to passengers.

Calls to keep the airport open and increase the number of flights during a climate emergency have been criticised by Green Party councillors, who described the idea as "unthinkably reckless".

"We are facing a catastrophic climate crisis and cost of living crisis, and bus services are set for 30% cuts,” Gleadless councillor Alexi Dimond told Now Then.

“Sheffield City Council and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority should be focusing all their efforts on these issues rather than trying to save – or even expand – a failing airport".

Labour's Louise Haigh and council leader Terry Fox both called for a "boost in passenger numbers", while Don Valley's Conservative MP Nick Fletcher said he would "do all I can" to keep the airport open.

This is despite the fact that aviation is one of the fastest-growing contributors to catastrophic climate breakdown, and experts have said we must reduce the number of flights each year to meet net-zero targets.

Expensive PR campaigns mounted by the aviation industry have put forward the myth of emission-free air travel – but this would rely on as-yet unproven or completely nonexistent technologies.

An Oxford University study has found that we need to cut global air traffic by 2.5% per year to keep the aviation industry's contribution to global heating at around 0.04C by 2050.

In April last year, climate campaigners called on the government to halt the expansion of small regional airports, like Doncaster Sheffield Airport, to avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown.

DSA opened in 2005 to cater for low-cost airlines, but has struggled to attract passengers as a result of competition from Manchester and Leeds-Bradford airports.

The mayor's office have already lent owners Peel Group £8m of public money and were in talks for a further £20 million, but say they weren't provided with the financial information they asked for.

"More people flying from DSA does not have to mean more people flying," said Coppard on Twitter. "Whoever owns the airport I will expect them to pursue an ambitious sustainability strategy as part of our wider clean growth agenda."

Coppard's position was supported by a joint statement from the region's four Labour council leaders, which made no mention of the climate emergency in its 448 words.

Sheffield's Green leader Cllr Douglas Johnson said the party were "propping up a failing industry with big chunks of public money", and called on local politicians to invest in green jobs instead.

Oliver Coppard has been approached for comment.

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