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KCC’s contribution, for what it’s worth

Boldly Stepping…

KCC are happily throttling themselves with management speak and business jargon, which is why some of their worst ideas are dressed up as “Bold Steps”. The latest in the series is “Bold Steps for Aviation” which is described as

“a discussion paper which suggests how the UK’s aviation capacity needs could be met without the need to develop a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary.  It is intended to contribute to the national debate and is published in response to the recent proposals from Lord Foster and the Mayor of London.”

Like it or not, KCC’s voice will carry some weight in the interminable debate about future flight capacity in the south-east, and this document is what they’re thinking of saying on our behalf. If you would like to make any comments on the document (which you can download HERE), please email them to aviation@kent.gov.uk.

Here’s an excerpt that gives KCC’s (i.e. Paul Carter’s) take on the future role of Manston [with comments]:

4.2.1 Increased use of Manston Airport

In Kent, Manston Airport has the potential to make a significant contribution, providing excellent connections to Europe destinations and reduced flight times. Manston has one of the longest runways in Europe (at 2,752 metres) and is therefore able to cater for all modern jet aircraft. The airport operates in Class G airspace, outside of the London Control Zone, and has sufficient capacity for the 4.7 mppa and 400,000 tonnes of freight anticipated by the Airport Master Plan by 2033 (Manston Airport Master Plan, 2009). Its local environmental impacts are greatly reduced by its location on the Thanet Peninsula, with much of its uncrowded flight path located over water to the east of Ramsgate. There is a fully-equipped passenger terminal facility with a capacity of around 1 mppa subject to the aircraft used and scheduling arrangements.

[Manston has the 14th longest runway in the UK. Modern jet aircraft don’t need runways this long – efficient design means they can take of and land on shorter runways. The massive old freighters like the Antonovs do need long runways. The 2009 Master Plan also forecast 206,000 passengers a year by 2012 – it’s less than 30,000. So how do the planes get from the runway to the “uncrowded flight path” east of Ramsgate? By flying straight over Ramsgate of course.]

Manston enjoys good strategic road links to London and the wider South East via the A299 dual carriageway, which joins the M2 motorway approximately 19 miles west of the airport. There are also three primary rail routes to Ramsgate, located 3 miles east of Manston, which serve the London termini of St Pancras International via domestic high speed services on High Speed One (HS1), Charing Cross and Victoria, therefore offering a total of five trains per hour during off-peak periods.

However these connections will need to be improved if Manston is to truly succeed as a regional airport. Research commissioned by KCC (through an EU funded project seeking to improve sustainable surface access to regional airports) reveals evidence that with a fixed rail link passenger numbers increase as it enables a wider catchment of people to use the airport. Newcastle Airport’s passenger numbers increased by 27% after the first full operational year of the Metro link to the airport and passenger numbers have continued to grow year on year. A station near to Manston Airport served by high speed rail services to London will increase the attractiveness of the airport to airlines and passengers.

[The potential passengers who live in and around London will STILL have excellent transport links to other airports, even if a Manston Parkway station is built.]

Line speed enhancements have been secured through a successful Regional Growth Fund bid and should be operational by 2015; and work is underway to take forward the provision of the proposed Thanet Parkway rail station, which subject to funding could also be operational by the end of 2015. KCC is also pushing for improved rail connection (using existing lines) between Ashford and Gatwick, which would link Manston to both Gatwick and Heathrow.

[The line speed enhancements save a couple of minutes. This time saving will be lost if trains stop at a Parkway station.]

Manston would strongly complement Heathrow and Gatwick as they increasingly focus on accommodating long-haul flights at the expense of domestic and near-European services. Development of Manston as a regional airport would create employment opportunities in one of England’s most disadvantaged areas; the airport’s Master Plan forecast for 2033 would see up to 6,000 additional direct and indirect jobs within the area, development for which is generally supported by the local community.

[Paul Carter is still obediently trotting out Manston’s pie-in-the-sky job forecasts, despite them being rubbished by TDC’s two independent consultant’s reports.]

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  1. A Pro-Manston group (200 members), who in these ugly times has appeared like a pimple on the face of the local media, had an inaugural meeting this week at the Belgian Bar in Ramsgate. This is according to this weeks Thanet Gazette, Sept 7, page 4. There have been other sightings and doses of earache on Radio Kunt. too. I gather the members of the Manston aerophiles club, aren’t local, well most of them.Those who do live on the flight path, may be hearing impaired, of little intellect and understanding, and perhaps sponsor a 747 to keep it from falling apart.[Finis Mundi]

  2. Why don’t these pro-Manston people put their own money behind the airport? It’s up for sale. If they really believed it was such a great prospect they would back it themselves. I guess it’s a lot easier to write silly letters to the paper than to prepare a credible business plan. The airport is a commercial venture. If it can’t operate successfully it should go bust. No way should the people of Thanet allow the pro-airport clowns to persuade the Council to use public money to prop it up.[Catflap]