Night flight ban could crush Manston
Airport chiefs at Manston say restricting night flights at Manston could strike a huge blow to the recovery of the local economy – and put the site’s very existance in doubt. According to the final part of independent research into its future economic impact, imposing stringest restriction could cost an estimated 1.3 million passengers and 67,000 tonnes of freight by the 2018.
The airport wants to expand its flight times as it seeks to grow – but opponents say such a move would create more noise for residents. Thanet District Council has been split by the proposals – with the Tory group backing them and Labour opposing. The Conservatives hold a one-seat majority at the local authority.
The airport has already tabled a proposal that would control and limit the amount of flying permitted at night. This business will be lost to the airport and the area if the more onerous restrictions, being suggested by the Labour group on Thanet District Council, were to be imposed.
The final conclusion of the report suggests restrictions on night flights would increase the airport’s financial losses, making it untenable for any owner. According to the report, the ability to attract and retain a full mix of passenger and freight services will be dependent upon the ability to schedule flights during the night, both now and in the future.
As a result of the loss of trade due to restricting night flights, the report estimates that the airport’s potential to create jobs will be cut by almost half, from over 2,000 people directly employed in airport activities to just 1,102 jobs by 2018. The report, carried out by York Aviation, leading experts in this field, also concludes that the airport would support 484 fewer indirect jobs in the local economy over thesame period.
Charles Buchanan, chief executive officer of Manston Airport, said:
“The implications on the local and wider east Kent economy of restricting our operating hours beyond the proposal we previously submitted is estimated to be in the region of £30m a year, and even brings the airport’s financial viability into question. This may not just be a question of the scale of benefits that the airport can bring to the area, but whether there is a viable business at all under these restrictions. What we are trying to do is build a regional airport here in Kent which requires an ability to be able to compete on a level playing field with the likes of Stansted, Luton and Gatwick, as well as airports on the continent. Restricting our operating hours will fundamentally affect the economic viability of the airport. It will reduce our ability to attract passenger and freight services and secure based airlines, which would offer a greater range and frequency of scheduled passenger services.”
Low cost passenger airlines require flexibility of scheduling to offer the more popular destinations such as Spanish sunshine resorts. Based airlines also provide a wider range of employment opportunities from flight deck and cabin crew to aircraft engineers to support the operation.
The first part of the Economic Impact Report, produced by York Aviation and published in May, suggested that the airport would directly employ 2,070 people and support a further 1,035 indirect jobs by 2018, if a level of night flights were allowed.
kentnews 18th Aug 2011
For more, see Needle & Threat