Regular readers will recall that the last time KLM showed any interest in Manston, they were being lured by the promise of £600,000 - money which Manston and KCC were trying to prise out of the Government's Regional Growth Fund. The Government said "No", and KLM faded into the background. I do hope this new service isn't being subsidised from the public purse (national, county or district).Read More »
Night flights at Manston have been an extremely contentious issue for many Thanet residents. Some believe that allowing the flights will bring economic prosperity to the area, with much needed local employment opportunities. Others believe that it is unlikely that many jobs will be created.
We took the stance some time ago that we did not believe allowing night flights would bring any real economic benefit to the residents of Thanet, and may in fact bring real harm to the area due to the impacts of noise and air pollution.Read More »
We wondered whether night flights would have made a difference to Flybe's decision to quit Manston.
After all, Charles Buchanan's constant message in the media is that night flights are essential to the airport's long-term commercial success, and Flybe is exactly the kind of high volume passenger carrier that Manston wants to attract (and keep).
So had the lack of scheduled night flights made Manston less attractive? Would scheduled night flights have persuaded Flybe to stay?
So we asked them...Read More »
Kent Online's business editor Trevor Sturgess argues for a Parkway station and high speed rail links, but I think he's missed a few relevant points [my comments are bracketed in italics].
Flybe’s decision to pull out of Manston is another blow to the airport, especially disappointing at the turn of the year. However attractive we in Kent think Manston is, it seems that not enough people agree.Read More »
The campaign group says night flights could actually damage Thanet’s economic growth. Protect Kent, the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s county branch, says there is little evidence that night flights at Manston Airport will significantly help the local economy. Campaigns manager Andrew Ogden said:
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“The fact that Flybe are pulling out in March because they cannot fill planes is damning proof of the lack of demand for flights out of Manston.
As part of the continuing PR offensive, Manston airport has roped in David Foley to bang the drum for night flights, as if they're not noisy enough already. The local papers are describing David Foley as "business leaders", despite the fact that there is very obviously just one of him. More of this in another post.
News that the airline operator Flybe is scrapping Edinburgh service sparks new demands for more flexible flight schedules.
Business leaders in Thanet have demanded that night flights be given the go ahead at Manston airport in order to attract passenger airlines after Flybe confirmed it was to scrap its service to Edinburgh in March. The firm said the route was not proving financially viable – thus delivering the latest blow to the terminal as it looks to establish itself within the mass market.Read More »
The airport’s CEO Charles Buchanan is delighted: “Fantastic – Flybe is here to stay! This is a massive vote of confidence in Manston by the UK’s number one domestic airline and confirms its commitment to Kent.” Manston Airport websiteRead More »
Too few passengers
Flybe's decision makes it absolutely clear – Manston does not have the makings of a successful passenger airport.
The current owners of Manston airport (Infratil) have always pushed the story that they want Manston to be a mixed passenger and freight airport. We know that Ryanair and easyJet have both examined Manston airport carefully in the past. They both came to the same conclusion: if Manston airport was 10 miles further West, it would have a large enough catchment area to have the potential to succeed as a passenger airport.Read More »
Flybe has said it will not be flying from Manston International Airport in Kent after March. The airline said it would cease operations there at the end of the winter season. Flybe launched its Manston to Edinburgh service in May 2010. Flybe spokesman Niall Duffy said:
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"We tried different routes and the numbers simply weren't there. It's impossible to sustain routes without the passengers.
Unfortunately for the Manston services it was just impossible to look at those passenger numbers and think that we could sustain the kind of difficulties we were facing.
It is fair to say that Manston is one of the airports with the smaller catchment areas in the United Kingdom, and you have Gatwick not too far away."
Flybe has declared an end to the boom in domestic air travel as the regional airline reported a deepening drop in demand for British routes.
The Exeter-based carrier runs domestic services which include Manchester to Norwich and Aberdeen to Gatwick, but the fallibility of its business to UK demand has been underlined by two profit warnings this year.
Flybe avoided another surprise on earnings on Wednesday as it published first-half results, though an increase of pre-tax profits in the six months to 30 September of £8.2m to £14.3m had been forecast to be significantly higher at one point this year. Before the profit warnings, Flybe had been expecting to make £36m.
As well as the poor profits performance, the results contained a further admission of weakness in the UK market. Flybe said winter bookings were down 1% compared with last year, confirming a deterioration of sales on top of an already poor outlook. Only last month Flybe had forecast a 1% increase in winter bookings.Read More »