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.