Monday, May 20, 2024

Abandoned UK airport reveals plans for Ryanair and easyJet flights

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AN ABANDONED airport in the UK plans to welcome Ryanair and easyJet flights when passenger routes eventually open.

Manston Airport, in Kent, first opened in 1916 and was used during World War I and World War II.

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Manston Airport in Kent has been closed for 10 yearsCredit: Alamy

The Royal Air Force left the airport in 1996, and the site officially closed in 2014 after it reported huge losses.

Following the airport’s closure, it has been used as a lorry park for truck drivers between the UK and France via Dover.

The Kent airport has also been used as a filming location over the years.

Before Manston Airport closed, the site was used as a filming location for the James Bond film Die Another Day, starring Pierce Brosnan.

More recently, it was also used to film the Hollywood blockbuster Empire of Light, starring Olivia Colman.

Despite being closed for 10 years, airport bosses remain hopeful that passenger flights will one day resume.

Tony Freudmann, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, and the public face of the airport’s revival, told Kent Online: “Once we’re operational, if the likes of Ryanair or EasyJet come to us and say we’d like to fly out of your airport and we’re going to base two or three aircraft there, then we can construct a passenger terminal and have them running out of there probably in less than 12 months.

It is likely that passenger flights will operate early in the morning, with Mr Freudmann adding: “They have to get their planes in the air between 6-7am because as soon as they cross the Channel they lose an hour.

“There really aren’t any more slots at the major airports in the South East. It is in their interests to base two or three aircraft at Manston. That’s that’s the working assumption we’ve made.”

But before Manston Airport can launch passenger flights it will need investment, an overhaul to its infrastructure, and be able to operate as a successful and profitable cargo hub.

In 2022, the UK government granted approval for Manston Airport to be redeveloped.

The airport’s owners, RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), has confirmed plans to invest £800million (from several unnamed investors) in developing Manston Airport as a cargo hub.

Because there have been few updates since the Royal Air Force left the site in the late 1990s, huge infrastructure changes are needed, including new terminals and updated runways.

According to Kent Online, every building will need to be pulled down while cargo-handling facilities are constructed.

The runway will also need resurfacing, with the remodelling of connecting roads also needing to take place.

It is thought that the initial construction work will take two years to complete.

Manston Airport is expected to initially only reopen as a cargo airport in 2027 at the earliest.

While cargo flights are said to resume by 2028, no firm date has been set for the reopening of passenger flights.

In an article in the Isle of Thanet News, County Councillor Karen Constantine said: “The current proposals don’t include any real detail on passenger flights, but anticipate 1.4 million people traveling by year 20 of operation.

“Allowing for the build-out, Manston won’t start operations until ‘late 2027’ so probably 2028, there’s no clear indication of when passenger flights can be expected.”

Local newspaper Kent Online suggests it could be another decade before passenger flights are introduced at the regional airport.

Further construction work will also be needed to transform the airport into a hub for passengers, with the likes of security and customs areas needing to be built.

The plans have been met with fierce opposition from local residents, with an outstanding Court of Appeal judgement currently pending – the verdict is expected in the coming weeks.

If the appeal is thrown out, then work on the airport will be allowed to go ahead.

Meanwhile, another UK airport currently in operation is to undergo huge changes.

East Midlands Airport‘s new £120million renovation project will introduce new scanning technology which will speed up airport security queues, as well as upgrades to toilets and seating.

Other UK airports with plans to reopen

It’s not just Doncaster Sheffield hoping to reopen – here are some other UK airports with relaunch plans.

  1. Plymouth Airport – Despite closing more than 13 years ago, the local council confirmed that it could one day reopen.
  2. Doncaster Sheffield Airport – The airport closed in November 2022, and could reopen thanks to a new multi-million-pound plan, with TUI possibly relaunching flights at the airport.

Along with resurfacing the runways, the works are expected to continue for the next five years.

And earlier this year, easyJet opened its new base at Birmingham Airport – the first new UK base in over a decade – with 16 new flight routes.

It is thought that Manston Airport will first be used as a cargo base

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It is thought that Manston Airport will first be used as a cargo baseCredit: Times Media Ltd

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