New research for Manston airport owners Infratil shows that the airport could create 3,500 jobs in the local economy, but only if more flexibility is allowed for night flights. The study by aviation consultants York Aviation into the economic impact of Manston suggests it would contribute nearly £65 million a year to the local economy by 2018, if its masterplan development is realised.
The research indicates the airport would provide direct employment for 2,070 people and a further 1,035 jobs in the wider economy by 2018, on the basis of the masterplan. The findings reinforce the claims in the airport’s masterplan and Infratil’s vision of developing a South East regional airport that would offer scheduled passenger services, chartered flights and handling international freight.
The report was commissioned by Infratil after Thanet council asked for more information about the impact of night flying and the economic value of the airport. This came after the authority was asked to consider lifting the ban on aircraft using the airport after 11pm and before 7am. The results of the research were released this week as work continues on a new multimillion-pound radar system at the airport and a three-times-a-week passenger service, scheduled by Flybe, was launched to Belfast City.
Using data from the masterplan, the airport’s customers and aviation industry, York Aviation concluded that the ability to handle some aircraft movements between 11pm and 7am would be necessary for Manston to attract a low-cost airline with planes based at the airport, as well as handle greater levels of freight from around the world. Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston airport, said:
“Our aspiration is to have aircraft actually based at the airport as this would significantly increase the number of routes we could serve and passengers arriving and departing from Manston. Persuading airlines to base planes at the airport would generate further local employment opportunities for cabin crew and additional airport jobs. Despite the present economic situation we remain confident that airlines will choose Manston and build upon our Flybe services and charter services. The research examined the viability of the airport’s masterplan and concluded that the aspiration to become a sustainable South East regional airport could only be achieved by Manston ensuring it has a mix of passenger and freight services using the airport.”
The masterplan shows the airport handling 2.2 million passengers and 167,000 tonnes of freight by 2018. This research shows that these levels are achievable, provided the management of the night-flying policy is implemented. Mr Buchanan added:
“We recognise that the issue of night flights is a high-profile one within the district and we are currently developing our detailed proposal and hope to be in a position to submit it shortly, and then for public consultation to begin.”
York Aviation is in the process of finalising the second part of the research, which will assess the impact that the imposition of a stringent night movement policy would have on the airport’s economic impact and commercial operation.
IoT Gazette 27th May 2011