Roger and his views > Manston Sale
Gale`s View – Wednesday 23rd October 2013
If all proceeds according to plan then the sale of Manston airport could be a game-changer for the economy of Thanet and the wider East Kent.
The doomsayers and those who have consistently opposed the development and success of Manston as a fully-fledged cargo and passenger airport will, of course, say “we have been here before”.  Those long in the tooth can remember the days when Silver City flew cars from Kent to the Channel Islands and since the full acquisition of the airfield from the Ministry of defence by Seabourne aviation there have certainly been a number of false starts and false dawns.
Nevertheless, Manston has defied the odds by remaining in business. The assets – not least one of the longest runways in Britain and a relatively modern air terminal – are still there and remain as a piece of the nation`s unrealised potential. If we allow this opportunity to ne squandered then it is highly likely that the Country`s supremacy as the location of Europe`s hub airport may be eroded to the point of extinction with the loss of tens of thousands of jobs not only in the aviation industry but in related service industries and in the financial heart of the nation, the City of London.
Already, flights that create welcome employment at Manston are transferring passengers from that airport, and from others in the South East, to Schiphol where travellers can “interline” and speed onwards to any location in the World.  Germany`s Frankfurt and Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris are also poised to pick up business and Dubai, although not “European” offers  a central location at which holidaymakers and businessmen can change planes to reach most places around the globe.
The report being prepared by Sir Howard Davies in his review of aviation in the South East will not see the final light of day until after the 2015 General Election and decisions taken and based upon that report will take years of planning, funding and probable public inquiry to implement.  “Boris Island” or additional runway capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted may be  a gleam in the developer`s eyes but we are losing business to mainland Europe today, as I write, not twenty years ahead.
If Manston has ever had a time, it is now.  Given the extension of High Speed One from Ashford through to Thanet, a sub-one-hour journey time from Central London and the pressing need to release landing and take-off slots and London`s two major airports to bridge the gap while major political decisions are taken and implemented and it becomes clear that Manston is not just a regional airport but a national asset that we simply cannot afford to waste any longer.
If Manston’s new owners succeed in taking the airport forward then the potential for thousands of new jobs on and off the airfield can transform the economy of one of the areas of highest social deprivation in the South East. If local and national politicians and Central Government fail to give the project the support though political will and investment in supporting infrastructure then the consequences may prove damaging and possibly disastrous not just for Kent but for UK Limited.

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