Campaigners against proposals for regular night flights at Manston airport have questioned research claiming growth would provide 3,000 jobs. Last week York Aviation’s study, on behalf of airport owners Infratil, claimed Manston would contribute nearly £65 million a year to the local economy by 2018 if expansion was allowed. Using industry standard figures, the aviation consultants found Manston would provide direct employment for 2,070 people and more in indirect employment.
Campaigners from the No To Night Flights group questioned the basis for the figures. They claim Bournemouth airport handles 1 million passengers with 247 jobs and Stansted estimated its jobs total will soon fall to 330 per 1 million passengers. At London City airport, where Manston airport chief executive Charles Buchanan worked before joining Infratil, the group says Mr Buchanan “promised” 3,135 jobs for an extra 36,000 flights but only 726 jobs were created.
Susan Kennedy from No Night Flights said:
“These 3,000 jobs rely on the airport’s entire Master Plan being achieved. Night flights will not bring 3,000 jobs. They might not bring any new jobs.”
The group also raised doubts over the possibility of realising the aims in the master plan. Ms Kennedy said:
“If the predictions in the master plan were correct, Manston would now have 1.3 million passengers per year. It actually has just 32,000. Last year, the master plan said 2.4 million passengers will create 600 direct jobs. However, Manston is now saying that 2.4 million passengers will create 2,070 direct jobs. What an extraordinary drop in productivity! Mr Buchanan is an experienced PR operator. He knows local people and some politicians fall for the idea of thousands of jobs because we’re in an area hard hit by unemployment. Night flights will not bring jobs, but will lose existing tourism-based jobs.”
The group’s view was backed by Thanet council’s Labour group which, in a statement, said the master plan was “an expression of Infratil’s hopes for the future”. Thanet Labour deputy leader Alan Poole said:
“Master Plans are at best guesses and should be treated with appropriate scepticism. Manston is operating nowhere near capacity during the day and the introduction of night flights from 11pm to 7am simply cannot be justified. Night flights could bring untold misery to Thanet’s residents. The health and quality of life for Thanet’s residents must surely remain paramount considerations.”
Isle of Thanet Gazette 3rd June 2011
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