Home ... NNF ... Manston ... Surely we can trust Infratil’s numbers?

Infratil (who own Manston) also own Prestwick Airport near Glasgow. In autumn 2008 Infratil’s forecast for passenger numbers at Prestwick was 5.7 million by 2018 and 12 million by 2033...

Almost immediately, freight and passenger business plummeted, and Prestwick ran at a loss for the rest of the year. Shortly after that, 50 staff lost their job. By autumn 2010, passenger business had fallen so much that another 120 staff had been made redundant... so much for Infratil’s forecasts.

Surely we can trust Infratil’s numbers?

Infratil (who own Manston) also own Prestwick Airport near Glasgow. In autumn 2008 Infratil’s forecast for passenger numbers at Prestwick was 5.7 million by 2018 and 12 million by 2033…

Almost immediately, freight and passenger business plummeted, and Prestwick ran at a loss for the rest of the year. Shortly after that, 50 staff lost their job. By autumn 2010, passenger business had fallen so much that another 120 staff had been made redundant… so much for Infratil’s forecasts.

Infratil’s forecasts for Manston are no more reliable than its forecasts for Prestwick. In October 2008, the Master Plan said Manston would have 1,200,000 passengers this year. But by November 2009, the Master Plan forecast had dropped to just 100,000. In fact, the actual passenger total for 2011 will probably be around 35,000 – less than 3% of what was forecast just three years ago. The Council says Infratil’s Master Plan is aspirational… that’s one word for it.

Charles Buchanan is Manston’s CEO. When he was at London City Airport, he said that an extra 36,000 flights – none of them night flights, by the way – would make 3,135 jobs. He got his flights, but created only 726 jobs, around 200 of which went to local people. So, the promised 3,135 jobs turned into around 200 jobs for locals – not a great track record.

Of course, nobody can guarantee that every job created will go to a local – that would be illegal.

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  1. Maurice Byford

    'Surely we can trust Infratils numbers?' – In short, No.The figures created by Infratil are a 'BPC Scenario', which means Best Possible Circumstances. That is to say that they will take the figures that in an ideal world could happen in the event of favourable circumstances.As a result the figures take the most positive slant of the assumption that all the best possible opportunities will occur and that there can be no negative negotiations or failings in the growth model. In essence it is a finger in the air wish list.The chief driving motivation behind all of this is the Regional Development Fund grant which is hooked into the Manston expansion.If Manston Airport say they will expand then KCC can move forward with the High Speed Rail Link into Thanet. If Manston are unable to grow further then the grant fails. Everything about the grant hinges exclusively on the expansion at Manston Airport.The figures that Infratil have included into their documents with regard to job creation relate in no small part to the anticipated growth in the Haine Road industrial area as a direct result of the Railway extension. It is anticipated that with the railway extension that businesses will be attracted to Ramsgate and establish opportunities thanks to faster rail links with London.That's why Infratil's job figures are so large, they have incorporated KCCs anticipated job creation figures relating to the Haine Road development.However, the job figures can only relate to Airport expansion so it is an accepted 'assumed' total.TDC and KCC have been pushing for the faster railway for decades. Now, with Manston Airport's help they have an opportunity to achieve it, but the terms as laid out by MAG is that they get the night flight allowances they want for commercial operations.None of this is in writing, but those within the planning and development circles now accept this position. The word is that this WILL happen. Their sticking point has been MAG's disastrous business plan and consultation document. There is a reason why the document has been so long in appearing. Without a doubt there have been reviews on reviews to ensure that the right things are going to be said in the right way to counter the arguments raised by the previous plan. This will have two objectives, firstly to persuade greater support of the plans from the general public by making it appear more feasible and secondly to counter point by point the independent Council review thus making it more attractive to approval.The only sticking point to whole process at this stage is Councillor Hart who has been vocal in opposition and has effectively countered any railroading of the proposal. However, the KCC leadership and Conservative Councillors are bullish in that this will happen despite opposition.The only element that could let the whole thing down is the grant approval. Those making the recommendation are by no means stupid and the figures being submitted will need to be evidenced. If the figures are not supported by evidence then there is a possibility that the grant will simply be rejected. However, there is also a political angle to this in that Thanet is identified a deprived area and with the loss of jobs at Pfizer, Thanet is a priority investment zone.This means that there may well be political interference in ensuring its success. It is the being seen to be doing something position.There are still some ifs and buts relating to the night flight issue. But many of TDCs councillors regard it as a small price to pay for possible growth.Some think that this night flight issue is already won. Possibly for good reason, they have substantial tier backing and are not adverse to underhand tactics to achieve their objectives. At this stage things definitely seem to be running in MAGs favour despite the completely spurious and clearly fabricated business plan.One light in the tunnel. The railway may not be as fast as they were hoping due to geographical factors that actually result in an only slightly faster service and therefore could not possibly deliver the benefits and opportunities that the grant expects.As you probably now know, Infratil are threatening to shut down Manston if they don't get night flights. It is possible that TDC may still push through the planning request to prevent this.

  2. I would say that councillors approving night flights is far from a foregone conclusion.despite the airport holding a gun to their heads (and the leader repeating the threat), councillors do have their own minds and can see through the hugely inflated jobs numbers and fantasy economic outlook for the airport. They will not be fooled by the airports hot air.The threat to peoples sleep and Ramsgates future by even a few night flights a week is very real though. Councillors understand that and will vote accordingly in numbers.