Charles Buchanan (Manston’s CEO) recently published his night flights manifesto.
He had a page of his own in the Isle of Thanet Gazette to tell the world how important and wonderful night flights will be. He opened with:
“Firstly, I would like to make clear we are asking for limited, managed and mitigated night-time operations policy – not unlimited night flights.”
Let’s look a bit more closely at the last four words of that sentence, the ones that sound quite reassuring.
We all understand the word “not”, so that’s OK. And we all understand what Mr Buchanan means when he says “flight”, so that’s fine.
What about “night”? This word does seem to have caused some confusion recently, and lies at the centre of the whole night flights issue. Fortunately, there is a standard definition that is used throughout the aviation industry, and Mr Buchanan mentions it later in his manifesto – “the night-time period would be between 11pm and 7am”.
So what about “unlimited”? Well, we know what limits Mr Buchanan must have had in mind when he used the word unlimited. He was thinking of the kind of limits he’s suggesting would apply between 11:30pm and 6am – a limit on the number of scheduled planes, and a limit on the noisiness of planes.
This is the bit where we find that what Mr Buchanan says is the opposite of what is true.
Between 11pm and 11:30pm – during the “night-time period” – there would be no limit on the number of planes, and no limit on the noisiness of planes. There would be no limits of any kind placed on the flights during that part of the night-time period. Between 11pm and 11:30pm there would be unlimited night flights.
Between 6am and 7am – during the “night-time period” – there would be no limit on the number of planes, and no limit on the noisiness of planes. There would be no limits of any kind placed on the flights during that part of the night-time period. Between 6am and 7am there would be unlimited night flights.
So when Mr Buchanan says that Manston is not asking for unlimited night flights, he’s obviously talking bollocks. Trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes with a broad and inaccurate statement. Deliberately saying something he knows to be untrue in order to mislead or deceive.
And let’s not forget that between 11:30pm and 6am (the so-called Quota Count period) there is no limit on the number of unscheduled flights – the late arrivals and the unavoidably delayed.
And here’s the rub, the final cynical spit in the face for the long-suffering general public. What happens when (not if) Manston breaks the few rules that it has suggested for night flying?
Absolutely nothing – no fines, no punishment, no comeback.
In a nutshell, then: unlimited night flights, and no penalties.