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Needle and threat

Charles Buchanan, CEO of Manston Tumbleweed Airport, has launched the next round of his campaign to make the airport more sellable. By his own admission, the airport is losing £5m a year, and the Kiwi overlords (Infratil) are desperate to rid themselves of this continual drain on resources.

Infratil are up-market barrow boys, buying companies to asset-strip or invest in, and then selling them on or milking them for all they’re worth. Manston was one of their rare bad calls and is, quite frankly, an embarrassment – it always gets the very last (single) paragraph in their lengthy monthly reports to investors.

They have decided that the only way to get anyone else to swallow this bitter pill is to sweeten it with a sprinkling of night flights, making Manston the only 24 hour freight airport in the south east. Of course, this isn’t how they’re selling the night flights bid to Thanet District Council, far from it.

The yarn they’re spinning for TDC is that their fairy tale Master Plan requires “based” airlines and aircraft, i.e. Manston is their “home” airport. And that based airlines and aircraft require longer flying days. And that means night flights.

This dubious logical chain leads Mr Buchanan to tell the world at large, and TDC in particular, that if he doesn’t get his way over night flights, Manston will shut. Clearly the hope is that TDC will buckle under this shameless blackmail, grant the night flights, and Infratil will then stand a slightly better chance of finding a buyer for their least successful investment.

See how the threat to shut this basket case of an airport has been covered: Open & Shut Basket Case 1; and Open & Shut Basket Case 2.

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  1. I thought my email of today may be of interest and stimulate other residents to convey their views to our councillors:August 21st 2011Councillor Bob BayfordDear Councillor Bayford, Re Manston Airport Proposed Night FlightsAs a regular listener to BBC Radio Kent, I heard your response rebuttal to Councillor Clive Harts interview at 08.15 hrs on Thursday 18th August on the Manston Night Flying issueI was appalled by your callous disregard for Thanet Council Tax Payers quality of life, plus the environmental issues; with your unreserved support and endorsement for Infratils proposal to impose regular scheduled night flights on the local community. You make a seemingly generous proposal for widespread public consultation on this highly contentious night flying issue; on the premise that a regional airport is of interest to everyone in the South East. Hence your obvious confidence that the public (who outside Thanet, will be unaffected by Manstons night flight issues) will vote for night flights. By this one clever act, you have assured Infratil that they will get their way and inflict sleepless nights on local council tax payers. As your colleague said, a poll result is entirely dependent on who you ask and how you phrase the question. In my view, the only justification for seeking the views on anyone who is not affected by Manstons take-off, landing and low circuit noise, would be if the question was Do you think that an International Airport at Manston is a good idea to for holiday and business flights? The answer to this (as you very well know) is a foregone conclusion. This however is not the issue the airport unfortunately already exists and the only issue is Should we allow night flights which will totally disrupt Thanet residents quality of life? Thus, if the vote is to be a fair one, the only people who should be consulted are those who will be affected by the noise of night flights. Unfortunately, these day, the association of the word fair, with conservative appears dubious at best.All this of course is not new, for we have prior experience of so called consultations and have reasons for skepticism. A previous council undertook these and following a resounding No! to night flights, they completely ignored their council tax-payers wishes and allowed the airport to extend its operating hours. Even the February 2010 Manston Airport Development survey by Stephen Ladyman concluded that 62% of Ramsgate respondents opposed night flights. So how many more times must we say that we are opposed to any form of night flying from Manston? The problem is of course, rather like the peoples referendum on the EU. If the authorities want a Yes and they keep getting a No – they continue to ask the question in different ways until they can concoct a Yes. So I look forward to wasting my breath giving my No Way views on night flying at this forthcoming round of Public Consultations Let us hope at least that unlike the last round of consultations this time you publicise these meeting properly through the Thanet media and also drop leaflets outlining the issue, giving venues, times and dates, through every Thanet letterbox.Finally I would just like to say that in my view, the only reason we now have a hung Council is the local fear of night flights being imposed on Thanet voters, together with the knowledge that the Tory Councillors would back this idea to the hilt. The point is that many Labour Councillors (and all of the Independents) owe their seats to local Council Tax payers who voted them in because they trusted Labour rather than Conservatives to do what is right for the ordinary Thanet resident, who deserves a decent nights sleep. Our only hope is that Labour continue to vote for what is right for the people that elected them (and who pay all your salaries) and that at least some Conservatives will actually start listening to their constituents. Yours sincerelyMr R Fawcett(Who has voted Conservative all his adult life)

  2. Purple Ronnie

    If he doesn't get the night flights the CEO says Manston will close. Isn't that what we all really want anyway? Then maybe the area could sustain something more attractive for a seaside town.How about a Kentish Disney or equivalent. The other theme parks in the UK all seem to be doing well, with their staffing and profits. And with the High Speed One connection those 20 acres could come in handy!

  3. SchmoozySchlepper

    If commercial passenger flights were ever going to succeed at Manston it would have been during the era of cheap flights to Europe – the Easy Jet-Ryanair type of thing. Rising world oil prices and the approach of peak oil mean that that era is coming to a close. Additionally, the low economic growth accross Europe means the demand for such flights is declining.I am frankly gobsmacked that apparently educated people with business sense such as local leaders of the Chambers of Commerce appear to be taken in by Charles Buchanan's marketing hot air. If Manston was going to take off as a passenger airport with 100,000s passenger movements each year, it would have done so in the 90s/2000's – too late now. Which is why we now have the freight growth/China Gateway thing.My personal guess is that without Night Flights the Chinese Soverign Wealth Fund will not invest in China Gateway – and that this is first phase of their plan. Infratil are hanging on in grim hope that the night flights will get through, and they will finally be able to realise money from Manston… why else would they keep a loss-making asset like this?Will the China Gateway bring jobs? Debateable – China has an unemployment problem even larger than Thanet's – and they have a record of taking their workforce abroad with them when they invest. Even in African countries, where labour could hardly be said to be over-priced and where there as low levels of H&S legislation, the Chinese bring in their own workers to mine commodities etc.The paragraph above is true, not speculation like the previous one, so please discuss it with your friends and let's try and prevent these dual lunacies from taking place here.