Package holiday giant Cosmos has this morning confirmed it has pulled the plug on its planned flights to the US from Thanet’s Manston Airport. The tour giant, which promised to make the Thanet airport a major departure point for flights to the United States, has failed to sell enough seats both in the UK and US.
It is understood the flights to and from Virginia had sold just 600 tickets in the UK – and a mere 200 in the US. That represents just ten per cent of the tickets available for the planned weekly service. It is a blow to Kent County Council which backed the operator as soon as it showed interest in using the airport and forged new links with the state of Virginia, in the east of the US, south of Washington. Kent County Council leader, Paul Carter, said:
“The direct flights project was just one part of our initiatives to regenerate East Kent. It was a calculated risk that had significant potential and could have delivered major benefits for the region. Enormous efforts have been made on both sides of the Atlantic to promote the flights. But, despite putting back the deadline for decision three times, in order to see if the market would respond and pick up, sales have failed to reach a critical mass. In the absence of any other organisation prepared to share the financial risk of continuing with the project, it would not be prudent or viable to invest public money in the venture. We will now redouble our efforts to stimulate inward investment and economic regeneration.”
The council is believed to have already sunk in £100,000 into the project of council tax-payers money. The county council lost a similar figure after backing Irish airline EUJet which started operating out of Manston two years ago but failed to make the project work. Cosmos began promoting its flights to Virginia last October and flights were expected to begin from May this year. But today it was impossible to book flights out of Manston via the tour operator’s web site. All monies will be refunded to travellers who have already booked on the service or an alternative offered.
YourCanterbury 28th Feb 2007