Robin Hood Airport lost more than a third of its annual passenger numbers between 2008 and 2013, a new report has revealed.
Figures from the Airport Commission show the Doncaster facility saw a drop in people through its doors from 1.1 million in 2008 to around 700,000 in 2013.
But airport chiefs say the decrease was due to the recession, and that this year it has seen growth once more.
In comparison, neighbouring Humberside Airport is faring no better with a decrease from half a million passengers to just 200,000. Leeds Bradford is the one bucking the trend with an increase from 2.9m to 3.3m.
A spokesman for the Airport Commission said: “There are signs of positive and substantial growth at some regional airports, with the strongest growth at the larger airports coming at Leeds Bradford International and Belfast City.
“However a number of the airports have experienced significant contraction during the recession, losing half or more of their passenger traffic.”
Steve Gill, managing director of Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, said that despite these worrying figures they had seen a turn in fortune.
He said: “As reported in April, Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield is continuing to see an increase in passenger numbers.”
More than 695,000 people used the airport during the 12 months up to the end of March – an increase of 2.4 per cent from the previous year.
“The figures coincide with Doncaster Sheffield Airport announcing new routes to Belfast, Isle of Man, Riga and Bucharest for summer 2014, along with routes to Antalya and Zante recently announced for summer 2015.
“The four new routes for 2014, combined with capacity increases on existing routes, will add more than 110,000 new seats from Doncaster Sheffield Airport in the year ahead.”
Other new routes include UK regional airline LinksAir launching flights to Belfast City and Yorkshire’s only service to the Isle of Man, with Wizz Air adding routes to Riga and Bucharest.
Thomson and First Choice will also increase the number of destinations they serve from Doncaster Sheffield Airport to up to 20 with the announcement of weekly flights to Antalya and Zante starting next year.
Mr Gill added: “In total Doncaster Sheffield Airport offers flights to more than 30 destinations around the world.
“Before the recession hit the globe, our passenger figures were at their height in 2008 with 1.1m people using the airport. Economies across the world were affected by the economic climate and this led to a decline in people travelling from the airport.
“We are now on a path of growth again, in line with the economy, and are pleased to see passenger numbers continue to grow.
“A lot of hard work has gone into developing key relationships with airlines, both new and current, to maximise the potential of this fantastic airport.
“The airport is still the UK’s newest and is relatively young in its business model. We did not make a profit in the last financial year, nor did we forecast or expect one.
“Obviously our strategy is to work more closely with the incumbent airlines to develop their business and to attract new airlines to operate from the airport.
“The new FARRRS link road which is progressing well will help in that bid as it will make access to the airport even easier from Sheffield and the surrounding areas.
“Our aspirations are for growth and we will continue to work to develop the airport and its offering to the Yorkshire public.”