Up to eight flights a night could take off and land at Kent International Airport, according to plans submitted to Thanet District Council. Bosses at the airport have submitted their long-awaited night-time flight policy, and campaigners now have 12 weeks to have their say on the proposals.
Managers say allowing flights between 11pm and 7am would attract more business to the area. They are banned under the airport’s current planning agreement with the council.
The submission proposes that by 2018, there will be as many as 659 night-time flights every year between 11.30pm and 6am – an average of 1.8 planes a night. But the nightly total is increased by a proposed average of 3.2 flights a night between 11pm and 11.30pm, and the same number between 6am and 7am. Chief executive Charles Buchanan said:
“For the airport to be commercially viable in the longer term, and deliver for Kent what other airports have done for their regions, it is vital that we are allowed to compete in terms of the operating hours.”
The airport proposes banning only the noisiest planes at night. Council leader Councillor Bob Bayford, said:
“The council is committed to ensuring that local people have plenty of opportunity to comment on these proposals. We know this is a hugely important issue, especially for those living under the flight path. Before this process begins we will be seeking an independent assessment of Infratil’s supporting reports, and will publish the findings. I’d like to encourage everyone with a view to ensure they take the time to participate”.
Mr Buchanan said allowing night flights could provide 2,000 jobs at the airport by 2018 and a further 1,000 jobs around Thanet. The airport says it currently employs 110 people and that a further 40 people are employed to assist the operation of the airport. He said binning the policy would “severely hinder” the airport’s ability to attract passenger and freight airlines and would cost the Thanet economy £30m a year and 1,450 jobs.
Thanet Gazette 28th Oct 2011