A TOP Kent politician is the latest person to name British Airways as the firm set to move into Manston. Thanet council called an emergency meeting last month to change regulations of the airport’s night flights in the belief that a new freight operator was about to relocate there. Despite widespread speculation that British Airways World Cargo was the firm set to move in, no formal announcement has since been made. But in a meeting last week, Canterbury City Council leader John Gilbey said:
“My understanding is that Kent International Airport has been approached to relocate a long haul international freight operation to Manston from its existing base. Infratil have therefore been asked to facilitate the relocation of this company to KIA and secondly confirm that they will be able to operate between the hours of 6am and 11.30pm.”
He later confirmed he believed the company in question is BA. An airport spokesman said he did not know how Cllr Gilbey had come by the information and refused to disclose who the operator would be until the deal had been finalised.
Meanwhile, the airport’s expansion plan has been backed by Conservative leader David Cameron’s new economy spokesman. David Freud used the Lord Mayor of Canterbury’s annual free lecture to say the airport is the key to regeneration in east Kent. Mr Freud, who lives near Sandwich, said:
“I am appalled at how bad we are in this country about building infrastructure. My solution to Heathrow is to build a rail link to Manston. It’s so obvious. It is stunning that we have an airport like that, with one of the longest runways in the country, yet someone decided not to link it to a railway line three miles away. It would do more for the growth of Kent than any other project and would solve the problem of London’s fourth airport at a stroke.”
Mr Freud joins Mayor of London Boris Johnson on the list of senior Tories to support the airport.