Why not utilise Manston – It’s already there!
Formed in 2012, well before the airfield was closed and proposals were discussed about changing the usage of the land into a housing estate and light industrial units, WNM? were involved in efforts to attract further business to the airport in accordance with the Local Plan that specified the land had to be used for aviation purposes only. In 2012, Manston already benefitted from a thriving air cargo facility that enjoyed an excellent reputation for good service and excellent aircraft turn-round times. This proved to be the main income stream for the airport. In April 2013, we were delighted to see the initiation of the KLM/Air France regular, twice daily, return service between Manston and Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. This service became very popular and in effect, meant that Manston passengers, by staging through Schiphol Airport, could connect to up to 130 international destinations worldwide faster than by travelling to Heathrow (running the gauntlet that is the M25 and long check in times). At that time it was hoped that Manston would fulfil its potential to become a major international airport, ranking with others in the South of England. In June 2013 a very successful airshow was staged, (after a hiatus of some 21 years) which brought huge numbers of visitors to the area to discover the jewel that is Manston.
Sadly, this increasing activity ceased in 2014, when the airport was sold to a holding company set up by Ann Gloag (of Stagecoach fame) resulting in subsequent closure of the airport for proposed development.
Our group remit then changed and in company with our sister groups, “Save Manston Airport” (SMA) and “Support Manston Airport” (SuMA), we focussed on supporting the various initiatives designed to bring the airport back into full use, seeking to oppose any change of use applications to airport infrastructure and to inform residents of any issues surrounding airport activities. In these aims, we have all been successful in varying degrees and hope to continue to do so.
At the moment (Jun 18) we await the outcome of a Development Consent Order being submitted by RiverOak Strategic Partners, which proposes the reactivation of Manston, in the first instance as a major aviation cargo facility.
We will let everyone know what happens next.