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Reports from the national and local press, and a couple of interesting takes on the story from the trade press.

KLM-Manston: news reports

Reports from the national and local press, and a couple of interesting takes on the story from the trade press.

BBC 13th Nov 2012

New twice-daily flights from Manston to Amsterdam

An airline has announced a new service from Manston to Amsterdam with
the creation of 28 jobs in Kent. KLM Royal Dutch Airline which is
merged with Air France said it will run a twice daily service from the
Kent airport to Schiphol in Amsterdam. In September KLM asked Manston to
conduct a survey to find out what the level of demand was for the

The new 55-minute flights will link Manston to more than 130
destinations from Amsterdam. The airport said that of the 9,300
responses to its survey, 80% came from CT postcodes in East Kent.

Just over 80% said they would use a direct service to Amsterdam, with
60% then connecting with flights to other parts of Europe. Of those
responding 96% said they would use Manston in preference to other
airports. KLM is to run two morning flights from Manston, with one
returning in mid-morning and the other in the evening.

The New Zealand company Infratil, which also owns Prestwick Airport,
put its two UK airports up for sale in March this year. Infratil said
that it would “continue to seek a buyer for the airports and work with local stakeholders to review alternatives”. Together Prestwick and Manston airports recorded losses for the six months to the end of September of just over £2m.

Passengers travelling through the airports fell by more than 180,000
during the period compared with the same time in 2011, although freight
business increased. Budget airline Flybe pulled out of Manston in March
saying flights from Kent were not economically viable. Manston has been
valued at £7.6m.

kentnews.co.uk 14th Nov 2012

Full details of KLM Manston to Amsterdam service

The news that KLM will operate flights from Manston airport in Thanet to Amsterdam has been warmly welcomed.

Last night, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines gave the go ahead to twice-daily
flights from Kent to Schiphol in Amsterdam. From there passengers will
be able to travel to over 130 destinations worldwide. The move is set to
boost tourism in Kent as well as make it easier for local businesses to
trade abroad. The flights will also allow Kent residents to travel
without the hassle of flying from London airports.

Manston airport bosses have said they are now planning to recruit 28
extra staff for the flights which start on April 2 and go on sale today.
Each return flight will cost £99 and the first flight leaves Kent at
6.35am with the last flight returning at 9.45pm.

Henri Hourcade, general manager for KLM in the UK said:

“Demand for efficient and convenient schedules to long-haul
destinations from the UK continues to grow, to emerging markets in Latin
America, Africa and the Far East, but equally to established markets
such as North America. By connecting the UK regions to worldwide
destinations, KLM is offering more choice to holidaymakers, but equally
adding to the infrastructure for regional UK businesses.”

Charles Buchanan, chief executive at Manston Airport, said:

“The new services will be a real benefit to Kent and its residents.
Passengers will be able to arrive at Manston, park adjacent to the
terminal building, check in and be on the flight to Amsterdam within
minutes, a hassle-free experience that makes travelling a pleasure.
Passengers from Manston can leave home without the worries of road
congestion or excessive flight delays affecting their journey.”

thisiskent 16th Nov 2012

Flights between Manston and Amsterdam to create 28 jobs in Kent

Thanet will be linked with 130 global destinations after Air France
KLM announced two new daily flights from Manston to Europe’s
fourth-busiest airport. The Franco-Dutch airline will offer the new
service between Manston and Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam in The
Netherlands, from April 2 – creating 28 new jobs at the Thanet airport.

Two morning flights from Manston will each be able to carry 80
passengers – with a return to Amsterdam costing as little as £99. A
Fokker 70 jet will run the services at 6.35am and 10.40am from Manston,
with a total flight time of under an hour.

After making the announcement at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge on Tuesday, Manston Airport chief executive Charles Buchanan said:

“This is great news for Kent, great news for Manston and great news
for KLM. We are physically the closest airport for most of Kent.
Passengers will be able to arrive at Manston, park adjacent to the
terminal building, check in and be on the flight to Amsterdam within

Air France KLM was convinced the service would take off after a
consultation received more than 9,000 responses last month. About 96 per
cent of Kent residents who gave their views said they would use the
service. The airline’s UK general manager, Henri Hourcade, said on

“It’s an airport which has proved to be reliable – a small terminal,
English-speaking, good shopping. We think there are people in Kent who
are fed up with traffic, the M25, expensive parking, and saturated
airports, and we will offer a hassle-free alternative to London.”

Mr Hourcade said Thanet would also become a destination for incoming passengers, adding:

“Manston will be part of our global map. It will be with our sales forces all around the planet.”

Passengers will be able to connect to countries such as Brazil, South
Africa and the USA, via Air France KLM’s main airports – Schiphol and
Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. The new service comes after a
year of some disappointments for Manston. Budget airline Flybe pulled
services to Edinburgh and Belfast, and Thanet council voted not to allow
limited scheduled flights at night. The airport was put up for sale by
its owners, the New Zealand-based Infratil.

Tickets for the new service are available now at www.klm.com

Travel Weekly 14th Nov 2012

KLM to launch from Kent to Schiphol

KLM will begin flying from Manston Airport in Kent next April,
operating twice daily services to Amsterdam Schiphol. The launch from
Manston is something of a surprise as the loss-making airport is up for
sale, has little traffic and previous scheduled services have been

Airport owner Infratil, the New Zealand-based infrastructure
investment firm, reported a £22 million write-down in the value of its
two UK airports, Manston and Glasgow Prestwick, this week. KLM will
commence the services on April 2, using an 80-seat Fokker 70 aircraft.
Tickets go on sale today.

Manston will be the carrier’s 17th UK departure airport. Air France-KLM UK general manager Henri Hourcade said:

“UK demand for convenient schedules to long-haul destinations
continues to grow. KLM offers more choice to holidaymakers by connecting
the UK regions to worldwide destinations.”

Manston Airport chief executive Charles Buchanan said:

“The new services will be a real benefit to Kent residents.
Passengers will be able to arrive at Manston, park adjacent to the
terminal building and be on the flight to Amsterdam within minutes.”

Manston, also known as Kent International Airport, has a chequered
history for scheduled flights. Flybe ceased operating daily services
from Manston to Edinburgh, Belfast and Manchester in March this year.
The last carrier to base itself at Manston, Irish airline EUjet, ceased
flying in 2005 – when Manston also went into liquidation before being
bought by Infratil. Spanish charter carrier Futura Airlines and tour
operator Seguro Travel, which also traded as Kent Escapes, operated from
Manston until both ceased trading in September 2008.

At present the airport offers a weekly service to Jersey from May to
September and a handful of summer charter flights. The KLM services to
Schiphol are scheduled to depart Manston at 6:35am and 10:40am and
return from Schiphol at 10:10am and 8:50pm.

FlightGlobal 14th Nov 2012

KLM sidelines Heathrow with Manston feeder service

KLM’s new feeder service from Manston airport to its Amsterdam
Schiphol hub illustrates a growing trend of connecting traffic being
funnelled outside the UK in lieu of spare capacity at London Heathrow
airport. Manston in Kent, southeast England will become the 17th UK
destination served by KLM on 2 April 2013, the airline announced this
week. The route will be served twice daily by regional subsidiary KLM
Cityhopper with 80-seater Fokker 70s.

Henri Hourcade, general manager for Air France-KLM in the UK, tells
Flightglobal that he expects “about two-thirds” of passengers on the
Manston-Schiphol route to be connecting traffic. Heathrow’s widely
publicised capacity constraints are motivating increasing numbers of
people to connect via hubs on mainland Europe, he argues.

“Saturation [at Heathrow] makes air traffic control difficult and it
causes delays, whereas Schiphol is unsaturated. Schiphol is an easy
airport for connections, and UK travellers know that. It’s English
speaking and it’s a one-terminal concept.”

Manston airport chief executive Charles Buchanan agrees, saying
EasyJet’s decision to base aircraft at London Southend airport
underscores the growing appeal of secondary bases.

“This is the start of people looking at diversifying their point of
service. We’ve seen it at Southend and this is a similar move for
Manston – a different type of service, but it’s all part of the same

Outlining the airport’s expansion plans, Buchanan acknowledges that
the withdrawal of UK regional carrier Flybe was a blow for Manston, but
he says “regular dialogue” is continuing with a “whole range of

“We’re looking for organic, progressive growth to exploit the market
south and east of London, rather than a big bang. We want to grow,
consolidate, and grow again. This is a very important first step. The
vote of confidence from KLM will catch people’s attention. They will
recognise what opportunities there are in serving those markets without
having to go through the main airport.”

Alongside its Cityhopper brand, KLM also has a presence at London
City airport through its Irish subsidiary CityJet, which is undergoing a
strategic review by parent Air France-KLM. Insisting the two
subsidiaries fulfil separate functions, Hourcade says Cityhopper
operates a “hub strategy” feeding Schiphol whereas CityJet combines a
feeder service for Paris Charles de Gaulle airport with a secondary hub
at London City.

Returning to the motivation for launching at Manston, he voices
optimism about demand levels given the airport’s densely populated
catchment area.

“It’s tough to reach the London airports from here. For long-haul at
Heathrow people leave four hours before departure because of the traffic
risk on the M25. But 400,000 people live less than half an hour from
Manston airport. In the whole of Kent there are 1.6 million people less
than one hour away. With quick access to a hassle-free airport, cheap
parking, and good quality connections at Schiphol, we are confident of
attracting customers.”

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  1. An excellent analysis by the author who has certainly done their homework here.I have said in other forums that it will not be viable or helpful for passengers to fly to Amsterdam from Manston to connect to their destination when they can fly direct from London. Maybe having to stay the night in a hotel before making the connection from Amsterdam will just add time and expense to your break or holiday.Obviously the KLM poll organised by Manston was drafted in a way to fool the respondents into giving 96% backing that they would rather fly from Manston than London. If they were given all the information and full facts in the poll then it would most definitely not have turned out so high in favour. The poll was very misleading indeed, similar to all the other rubbish the Manston spokesmen spout out.They are desperate to sell-up and will try anything to make it look like a going concern.[Kent Resident]

  2. The poll was laughable. I took it to see what it was like and by the way the questions were asked it appeared I was resoundingly in favor of the service, despite the fact I actually think the service is pointless/unnecessary.Add to this the fact the poll was clearly advertised throughout Kent (with big marketing budget and full press support) and you have very high percentage of support. The Nazis sold their ideas in a similar way. It was cleverly done, and with the finance and marketing tactics used I’m sure Infratil/KLM will consider it a success. They got their numbers.We may endure some night flights for a while but I firmly believe that the market will be the ultimate decider here and when it rears it’s ugly head once more in the form of low passenger numbers, zero regeneration for Thanet and empty planes, KLM will pull out with a loss and this will be the final nail in the Manston coffin.Making Manston work at the cost of Thanet will be a crime. Thanet needs people who care about Thanet spending money in Thanet and attracting more people to Thanet to do the same.[Rob]

  3. So how is it that the first flight from Manston to Amsterdam departs at 06.30 hours? Is the 07.00 hours to 23.00 hours no flight aggreement being put under the carpet? Something tells me this is the start of the night time flying that most of the local councillors really want, slowly introducing it in bit by bit. Are KLM and the local council breaking the law?[david]

  4. I can’t help feeling very concerned about the commencement of KLM flights at 0635 hrs as I feel, like David, that this is Infratil getting their foot in the door with night flights. Already there are an increasing number of night flights being filtered in, though maybe not ‘scheduled flights’ at the moment and I make a point of complaining, for all the good it does, to Manston Airport on every occasion. I take some comfort from the fact that it cannot possibly be viable, either in terms of time or money, to fly to Amsterdam to hang around in an airport lounge waiting for a connecting flight to goodness knows where in the world. Its probably OK if your end destination is Amsterdam, but I cannot see how this benefits anyone travelling further afield. So it may well end up going the same way as EU Jet and Flybe. I am not anti airport, but I am an avid No Night Flights Supporter and will continue to voice my opinion in that respect for as long as it takes. Once the genie is out of the bottle its difficult to get it back in!!![Sandra]

  5. Let’s just think about this KLM plot. how many Kent area people want a quick break in Amsterdam? Enough to make a twice DAILY service viable. Of course not. how many Amsterdam-London axis travellers will slog it out by road/rail to Ramsgate for a flight – only idiots. How many Dutch want to land in Ramsgate to go onwards to London or the North – only idiots. KLM are NOT idiots so therefore we should SMELL A RAT.[LIVE ERPOOLLAWN]