Closed Manston Airport has freighter potential
20 / 03 / 2015
Manston Airport in south-east England should be reopened as a potential freighter hub, says the Baltic Air Charter Association (BACA).
The Kent gateway, about 60 miles from London, was an important diversionary airport and could potentially become a cargo hub, taking five to ten freighters a day, says London-based BACA, which represents 220 members worldwide.
Manston is owned by transport entrepreneur Ann Gloag, to whom it was sold by New Zealand based Infratil for just £1 in October 2013. However, the new owners closed the airport in May 2014, saying that its losses were unsustainable, after a hoped-for expansion in full freighter traffic and low cost passenger carriers failed to materialise.
BACA is calling on the UK Department for Transport to investigate why Manston airport was allowed to close so quickly and to lend its support to all the local and international companies that are prepared to invest and reopen the airport.
It warns that the decision to shut Manston ignores the wider issue of runway capacity in south-east England. BACA cited a recent survey by KPMG which concluded that all London Airports will be full to capacity in 15 years’ time and that airlines from Asia and other parts of the world are already choosing to operate services from Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, instead of London.
Even if the new UK Government makes a decision within a year of coming into office in May 2015, “there will undoubtedly be 10-15 years of appeals and enquiries and more appeals. It is fair to say that there is little chance of 3,000 metres of new runway being laid and put to use, at whichever airport is chosen, within the next 20-25 years,” it says.
Manston’s runway can already handle the world’s largest aircraft; A380, B747, AN-124 aircraft, without any modifications and could free up 2,000 inbound and 2,000 outbound UK runway slots annually.
Operating it as a dedicated cargo hub could free up capacity at other UK airports to focus on passenger and other non-cargo traffic, BACA says. Similar plans could be adopted for other airfields, such as the RAF bases at Mildenhall, Alconbury and Molesworth, closure of which was recently announced.
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