Manston isn’t Outer London. It’s out of London.
Well, there are several airports that have leapt on the global branding bandwagon and smuggled the word ‘London’ into their name, with varying degrees of geographical accuracy.
(A special mention must go to “London Ashford Airport”: 60 miles from London, 13 miles from Ashford, 1 mile from Lydd. It seems the greater the distance, the more prominent the billing – it’s full title is actually “Jupiter Brazil London Ashford Airport”.)
So, JBLA to one side, what are we left with? Well, starting from where London actually is, you can see that London City is pretty much a slam-dunk – 9/10 for accuracy. Spiralling out clockwise from the south, we have Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Stansted, Southend and Manston. Yes, folks, Manston’s even further from London-land than the fantasists at Lydd.
‘Location, location, location’ does matter and this seems to be a persistent blind spot for many when it comes to discussing Manston’s viability. It may have a lovely long runway, but it’s in the wrong place.
Draw a circle with a 20, 30 or 50 mile radius around all the ‘London’ airports, and Manston’s circle will have the least land in it – because it’s on a peninsula. In terms of population within the catchment area, it may just nudge ahead of Lydd, but will always be well behind the others. It’s not a great place for a high volume passenger airport. Not that great for freight either, being so far from the highest densities of people and industry.
On with your thinking cap, dear reader, for soon I will be asking for your best efforts on two topics: how would you make a sustainable success out of Manston as an airport; and how would you make a sustainable success out of the Manston site as a non-airport.