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Long-promised direct flights between Kent and Virginia look set to take off next year. Senior representatives of Norfolk International Airport, Virginia, and Kent County Council are poised to sign an agreement that paves the way for new aviation links from May 2007.

A weekly charter service between Norfolk and Manston would be operated by Cosmos in the UK and CI Travel in the United States. Norfolk Airport Authority has agreed to become a financial partner and is understood to have pledged half the start-up costs. The proposed service builds on a Memorandum of Understanding between the state of Virginia and Kent signed in Richmond, Virginia, last June. One of its stated aims is the creation of an air bridge between the two regions to promote business, education and leisure links.

Direct air link to US cleared for take off

Long-promised direct flights between Kent and Virginia look set to take off next year. Senior representatives of Norfolk International Airport, Virginia, and Kent County Council are poised to sign an agreement that paves the way for new aviation links from May 2007.

A weekly charter service between Norfolk and Manston would be operated by Cosmos in the UK and CI Travel in the United States. Norfolk Airport Authority has agreed to become a financial partner and is understood to have pledged half the start-up costs. The proposed service builds on a Memorandum of Understanding between the state of Virginia and Kent signed in Richmond, Virginia, last June. One of its stated aims is the creation of an air bridge between the two regions to promote business, education and leisure links.

Speaking from Fairfax, Virginia, Cllr Alex King, KCC deputy leader, said:

“A deal is close to being finalised and I expect the final arrangements to be completed soon. Thorough investigations have revealed a market for a charter flight between Kent and Virginia. It will get an extra lift from the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first colony at Jamestown by the three boats that sailed out of the Thames from Gravesend. It is rather fitting that this new opportunity comes on the 400th anniversary of the epic tale of the first settlers.”

Kent-based consultants Paul Tipple and Tony Freudmann of FT International, who both previously worked for PlaneStation, the collapsed former owner of Kent International Airport, Manston, and low-fares airline EUjet, have investigated the feasibility of a service.

Their report has convinced US and Kent officials that it would be viable, given sufficient financial backing. However, KCC, already bitten by its £100,000 cash injection in the failed EUjet venture, has refused to invest in the proposed venture. Norfolk Airport Authority chairman Peter Decker said:

“The history of England and Virginia is legendary. This is a tremendous opportunity to be the air gateway for international visitors coming to the Jamestown 2007 festivities. ‘And also for local travellers to see one of the most beautiful parts of Great Britain.”

Norfolk International Airport is the major airport serving south east Virginia and northeast North Carolina. Scheduled airlines currently using the airport include American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United Express and US Airways.

kentonline 4th May 2006

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