An international travel hub could be created at Kent International Airport at Manston. The 25-year vision from KIA bosses at the former Battle of Britain airfield includes a complex to rival Luton and Stanstead, with passenger intake increasing from 16,000 a year at today’s figures to six million in 2033.
It foresees a second passenger terminal, an extension to the A299 Thanet Way – providing a direct route into the airport for freight and passenger traffic, and a railway station to serve the airport, which aims to take passengers from London St Pancras to Manston in 80 minutes. Two spots have been earmarked for the parkway station – at Cliffsend and the Lord of the Manor roundabout, which is the favoured spot.
Passenger flights will return to Manston. Likely destinations are Faro, Malaga and Palma, as well as domestic services to Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin and Edinburgh. Another option is to bring in a budget airline to Manston and bosses say they have made “significant progress” in this area. Matt Clarke, KIA chief executive, said:
“The growth in the airport here will come as the other airports in the south east near their capacity. They’ll become less easy to use, and certainly the convenient, regional airports (like Manston) have the opportunity to soak up some of that extra growth as the demand for air travel increases. It will be such an improvement for the Thanet area, particlularly because the airport has the potential for huge, wide-scale growth and employment opportunities. The 2033 estimates suggest there’ll be 7,500 jobs created as a result of the aiport – 1,200 of them will be directly employed at Manston.
The commencement of the high speed domestic rail services between Ramsgate and London in 2009 will dramatically reduce travel times making the airport even more attractive to passengers and aircraft operators. The proposed expansion is supported by national, regional and local planning and economic development policy, and with the extensive facilities currently in place, the infrastructure required to support the projected growth can be accommodated on land currently owned by the airport. We already have the beginnings of a well-developed airport. Aircraft handling facilities exceed those found at many successful regional airports and we already host daily 747 aircraft movements during our peak season. KIA is substantial asset which will benefit the whole county and provide much-needed runway capacity for the south east.”
The airport is also expected to see an increase in the level of freight it handles, rising from 33,000 tonnes at the moment to 100,000 tonnes by 2010, 150,000 tonnes by 2012, and more than 500,000 tonnes in 2033.
Following the announcement, Thanet North MP Roger Gale said he believes that London mayor Boris Johnson should “look very seriously at the potential of Manston as the site of a major regional airport”. Mr Gale said:
“Manston is a service that could be swiftly developed and is waiting to happen. The pressure on Heathrow and Gatwick could be relieved very successfully if a serious effort was put behind the plans unveiled by Kent International Airport.”
Mr Gale has campaigned for 20 years for the airport to be serviced by proper infrastructure and he praised the vision of a high-speed rail link to Manston. He said:
“The ideas suggested by Matt Clarke and the team at KIA are exciting for the whole of the region and Thanet in particular. However, this is only possible with the development of a parkway station, which would be a ‘halt’. It would need a large car park, two covered platforms and a swift link direct to the terminal.”
kentonline 8th Oct 2008