A potential night curfew on flights at Kent’s Manston Airport could cost the gateway 1.3 million passengers and 67,000 tonnes of cargo each year, making it “untenable for any owner”.
If the restrictions on night flights suggested by the Labour Group on Thanet District Council are imposed, the financial losses at the airport would increase and it would call into question the ongoing viability of the gateway –making it untenable for any owner, a report has revealed.
According to the report by York Aviation on the future economic impact of the Kent gateway, the ability to attract and retain a full mix of passenger and freight services would be dependent upon the ability to schedule flights during the night, both now and in the future.
Meanwhile, because of the loss of trade due to restricting night flights, the airport’s potential to create jobs will be cut by almost half, from over 2,000 people directly employed in airport activities to just 1,102 jobs by 2018.
The airport would support 484 fewer indirect jobs in the local economy over the same period.
Charles Buchanan, CEO of Manston Airport, said: “The implications on the local and wider East Kent economy of restricting our operating hours beyond the proposal we previously submitted is estimated to be in the region of £30m a year, and even brings the airport’s financial viability into question.
“This may not just be a question of the scale of benefits that the airport can bring to the area, but whether there is a viable business at all under these restrictions.
“What we are trying to do is build a regional airport here in Kent which requires an ability to be able to compete on a level playing field with the likes of Stansted, Luton and Gatwick, as well as airports on the continent.
“Restricting our operating hours will fundamentally affect the economic viability of the airport. It will reduce our ability to attract passenger and freight services and secure based airlines, which would offer a greater range and frequency of scheduled passenger services.”
The report said that the ability for Manston to handle some aircraft movements between 11pm and 7am would be necessary for it to attract airlines, such as low-cost operators, with planes based at the airport, as well as handle greater levels of freight from around the world.