Plans for night flights at Manston International Airport have been shot down by an independent report. Herne Bay campaigner Phil Rose said:
“This confirms a lot of what the No Night Flights campaign has been saying for the past two years. The original proposal and back-up documents submitted by Infratil were putting a very, very, positive spin on things. They were promising more than the airport could deliver, and they understated the effect night flights would have on the local population.”
The report by Parsons Brinckerhoff was commissioned by Thanet District Council following Manston’s application in October to have more planes landing and taking off between 10pm and 7am. Airport bosses say extra capacity is needed to meet demand for more flights, and would lead to more jobs and attract up to one million more passengers a year.
But the report, published on Monday, says predictions do not take into account the 2009 dip in demand. It says:
“In the short term, we do not believe the airport can justify a night flying quota system to support passenger growth.”
It warns that Manston’s isolated position and relatively small catchment area would stop airlines from moving to it, and suggests that any airline which does move to the area could be encouraged to operate during the day. Manston’s advisors say without night flights they could lose up to 40 per cent of available business, but Parsons Brinckerhoff’s report said they could not see any evidence for that figure, adding:
“Given that Manston Airport currently employs a proportionately large workforce for a small throughput, growth of passengers and freight in the short term may not necessarily lead to significant employment and hence economic impact.”
The report predicted there could be at least four complaints about noise a night, which it says is a “not insignificant number”, and that while
“the noise assessment at first glance appears to tick all the right boxes […] the analysis of the noise impacts have, in our opinion, resulted in an underestimation of the potential adverse impacts on residents.”
- Proposal: To allow more night flights based on total amount of noise rather than total number of flights. This system is used at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stransted. Manston bosses say night flights are crucial to the airport’s future.
- Night flights: Any take-off or landing between 10pm and 7am. There were 43 at Manston in the year up to last September. It is costly for airports as they have to employ a full shift of staff (including firefighters) even for just one flight.
- Demand: Demand for flights is expected to grow “dramatically” in the next 20 years. The government wants to make better use of existing airports but does not want to build a third runway at Heathrow. Allowing night flights would help meet the demand.
HB Times 26th Jan 2012