New flights have started between Manston and Belfast’s George Best airport. The first of the Flybe services arrived in Thanet at lunchtime on Thursday. Flights will run between Manston and Belfast three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The route takes 90 minutes and will initially run for the summer, with plans to extend it if the service proves popular.
At the launch, which coincided with the first anniversary of flights between Manston and Edinburgh, airport chief executive Charles Buchanan said:
“The Belfast service underscores Manston’s key importance as the gateway to the glorious south east. Passengers using the airport immediately realise how different it is to others, thanks to the ease of getting to and from Manston and the fact that you can board your aircraft just metres from where you park your car. It’s air travel as it should be – convenient, comfortable and relaxed.”
Mr Buchanan added that 25,000 passengers had used Manston’s Edinburgh service in its first year, hailing it as a success. Flybe and Manston airport hope that 50,000 people will use the services to Edinburgh and Belfast in the next year. Flybe flights between Manchester and Manston were dropped this year after disappointing sales.
Mr Buchanan also took the opportunity to underline the economic benefits of the airport. The airport is on the brink of reapplying to Thanet council for changes to the current ban on flights at night. Mr Buchanan said:
“It is important to us as an airport to build up the right services for the community and the economy. Particularly in these times, when jobs are difficult to come by, the airport can have a positive economic impact on the area. We are going to see if we can grow the airport to our master plan in the next three to four years, which would bring £340 million a year to the local economy. We think that this is a prize worth having.”
Thanet Times 3rd Jun 2011