The announcement came after Kent International Airport bosses approached the council to negotiate a change to the hours it can run flights because they are trying to secure a “major European airline”. Ramsgate Labour councillor David Green said: “It has been strongly rumoured to be British Airways World Cargo.” KIA chief executive Matt Clarke said the identity of the airline it was in talks with was “commercially sensitive” and refused to confirm or deny it was British Airways. He said:
“I can confirm that we are in discussion with an international air freight operator about a potential relocation of their operation to KIA but I am unable to disclose who it is for reasons of commercial confidentiality. The discussions are at a sensitive stage and I am not in a position to add to the speculation regarding who the operator may or may not be.”
A BA World Cargo spokesman said
“We are in the process of tendering our long haul ground handling operations within the United Kingdom. These operations are currently based at Stansted Airport. However, as part of the tender process, we are considering a number of different airport options within the UK.”
Council leader Sandy Ezekiel speculated that if BA did arrive, it could create at least 200 jobs. An extraordinary meeting of full council will take place next Thursday at the Cecil Street offices in Margate at 5.30pm to consider the airport’s request. Its owners Infratil want to be able to run flights for an extra 30 minutes in the evening until 11.30pm and between 6am and 7am. The council is expected to review these changes every six months after the first 18 months of their introduction. It is anticipated that an extra 11 flights a week will happen, though council economy boss Roger Latchford said only a portion of the extra flights would occur in the renegotiated hours.