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It's refreshing to see an independent review of Manston's present and future prospects that doesn't shy away from stating the obvious - a successful passenger airport needs plenty of passengers within a convenient distance, and a successful freight airport needs plenty of customers within a profitable distance.

The Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) report says Manston airport is in the wrong place:

[p6] Given the geographic location of Manston it is unlikely that carriers would show much interest for inbound traffic from key European city links – we would argue this would only be relevant if Manston was strategically placed near to a large city or a region with a large catchment area.

Location, Location, Location

It’s refreshing to see an independent review of Manston’s present and future prospects that doesn’t shy away from stating the obvious – a successful passenger airport needs plenty of passengers within a convenient distance, and a successful freight airport needs plenty of customers within a profitable distance.

The Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) report says Manston airport is in the wrong place:

[p5] Given the geographic location of Manston it is unlikely that carriers would show much interest for inbound traffic from key European city links – we would argue this would only be relevant if Manston was strategically placed near to a large city or a region with a large catchment area.

Heathrow has queues of carriers wanting to use the airport, so they can afford to pick and choose who they let in. Over the short to medium term, Heathrow airport will carry less freight and more passenger traffic, as passengers are more profitable. This will displace freight traffic to other UK airports.

The PB report says York Aviation is wrong when it says that Manston is “ideally geographically located” to benefit from this displaced freight traffic.

[p5] Stansted, and Gatwick to a lesser degree, have significant capacity to accept additional freight volumes and are strategically better located close to motorways and major conurbations.  For this reason we would disagree with York’s contention that “It is for the relocation of these services that MIA is ideally geographically located”.  MIA, whilst only 50 minutes from the M25 at Junction 2, is not strategically positioned for freight to be dispatched anywhere other than the far South East of England.

On p15 of their report, York Aviation claim that a night time ban prevents Manston from accepting freight traffic from much of the rest of the world (based on an arbitrary departure time of 2300).

The PB report says Manston is only excluded from 9% of the scheduled air freight market…

[p6] … we do not believe that this provides a compelling argument for significant economic benefit to the region as a result of the introduction of a night flying quota system.


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  1. Who paid Parsons Brinckerhoff for their independent report?

  2. Parsons Brinckerhoff were commissioned (and presumably paid) by Thanet District Council.