Infratil may consider investing in changing use of Manston and Prestwick – to no longer be airports

Radio New Zealand has said Infratil would consider investing in its two British airports to change their functions to help make them more attractive to sell. It cannot sell either Prestwick or Manston, after they have underperformed (made losses) for years.  Infratil executive Tim Brown said the company now has to look at a range of complex proposals and if the use of an airport is going to change, it will have ramifications for local communities. And if airports are struggling, then they may then either need subsidies or be closed and put to alternative use. There have been some (informal) suggestions that it might become theme park… solar farm… race track… nature reserve…houses ?



Game-changer – Manston to stop being an airport

20.11.2012  No Night Flights

Manston and Prestwick have proved hard to sell. Unsurprisingly. Infratil wants to sell them because they’re failures – and that’s why they’re hard to sell.

Infratil has been losing millions every year, for years, and they’re eager to staunch the flow. The penny seems to have dropped that these two failed airports would be easier to sell… if they weren’t airports.

So Infratil is putting the word out that they’re prepared to stump up cash to help potential buyers transform the airports into, er, something they actually want to buy.

Do feel free to use the comments section [ No Night Flights ] to pass on any helpful suggestions for Manton’s future… theme park… solar farm… race track… nature reserve…



Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand 19 November 2012

Infratil says it would consider investing in its two British airports to change their functions to help make them more attractive to sell.

The listed infrastructure investor’s Glasgow Prestwick and Kent airports are for sale after years of underperformance.

Last week, Dutch national carrier KLM confirmed it would start making twice daily flights from the Kent airport to Amsterdam from April 2013.

Infratil executive Tim Brown says the process of selling the airports has taken longer than the company expected.

He says the company now has to look at a range of complex proposals and if the use of an airport is going to change, it will have ramifications for local communities.

Mr Brown says if airports are very successful then councils or cities often then tax them, but if they are struggling they may then either need subsidies or be closed and put to alternative use.

He says the debate then becomes more complicated, which makes timeframes more difficult to guess.

Mr Brown would neither confirm or deny whether Infratil is looking to buy Stanstead Airport in London.




Comments about possible future uses for Manston from No Night Flights:

Strange KLM say they are going to fly twice a day from Manston, to Holland: if this has potential, why hasn’t a British Airline done the same? Can’t see the attraction myself – by the time anyone has flown to Holland, gone through arrivals, and boarded whatever transfer flight they want, they could have gone to Gatwick twice over!


Best thing for Manston would be if Centre Parcs built a theme park there, they would employ thousands more people than ever an airport would!

Agree with Mr Franklin’s comments and also think a Theme Park would be a great idea – this is what Thanet and surrounding area needs as the nearest theme parks are Thorpe Park and Chessington which are all at least 2 hours drive away and that’s on a good day.
It’s important for people to realise that it is Thanet’s elected representatives who have prevented the airport being used for anything which might have been economically effective. When the airport came up for sale, it was the council which insisted that it had to remain as an airport. Old fools still living in a bygone age of package holidays to the Costa del Sol. Successive councils have had several opportunities to change tack but have stubbornly refused to acknowledge that we might be better off with something else. There can now be little doubt that Infratil would be willing to sell for an alternative use. Only the Council stands in their way.
I would quite like houses on the site.


Comments from AirportWatch members:

Views are definitely changing- Thanet Council’s Airport Working Party (AWP) last meeting asked the same question that CPRE Protect Kent has been asking, namely ” is there a legacy requirement for the runway to be kept open??”.

It may be that there isn’t, but it is possible (but probably unlikely, as searches have found nothing) that the Ministry of Defence put that as a condition of sale. The ATWP (Air Transport White Paper 2003) requires the Council to check the legal position of the runway, so we may find out, although council legal advice hasn’t always been too good in past…

CPRE Protect Kent have been considering possible uses as well as those mentioned – the nearby Thanet Earth massive glasshouse are an example of good use of runways, as they don’t use the soil, and the hangars could be used for windturbine blade making, and have Photovoltaics on the roofs..trees could even be planted- trees are sadly lacking in Thanet as William Cobbett recorded.
Even if runway had to be kept, the north field is a large area mostly of grass and could be used for ‘green’ uses, and would pay more than the airport.
CPRE Protect Kent’s  Press Release said:
“In common with many residents in East Kent, we accept that there has been an airport at Manston for some years, and the expansion of commercial flights has always been a possibility.  While we welcome the news that KLM are introducing flights to Amsterdam, for the jobs this venture might create, we remain sceptical about its future success.  Many airline operators have tried and failed to run a thriving airline business out of Manston, so we do hope that people will not be too over-optimistic about this latest endeavour.
With regards to night-flights, we remain strongly opposed to these, and have never seen a convincing case for their need.  The negative social and environmental impacts of night-flights far outweigh any theoretical economic benefits.  In fact, the promise of jobs at Manston due to the introduction of night-flights has been shown to be vastly over-exaggerated, creating false hopes in the communities of East Kent.  Night flights have never been a regular feature of operations at Manston, and we don’t believe there is any valid argument for them to start.”


 The excellent No night flights website also has this analysis:

Length of journeys through Manston:

“Thanks to the instant wizardry of the internet and flight comparison sites like Expedia, everyone can be their own travel agent.
It’s easy to compare just how expensive and convenient any flight is in comparison to all the others available. As I’ve explained, Air France-KLM’s strategy is to channel people through their own hubs, which may be great for them, but isn’t so jolly for the passengers…


• Flying to Faro in Portugal would take 10½ hours from Manston, but 3½ hours from the (competing) London airports.
• Flying to Cape Town in South Africa would take 25 hours, as opposed to 12 hours from the (competing) London airports.
• Flying to Brisbane in Australia would take 35 hours instead of 23 hours from the (competing) London airports.

The extra time is spent sitting in airports, eating airport food, and eating into valuable holiday time. Even if the potential passengers of east Kent don’t realise this before they book, the odds are it’s not a mistake they’ll make twice. So much for repeat business. Manston is unlikely to deliver a steady stream of passengers wanting to connect to Air France-KLM’s international hubs.

Cost of KLM flights via Manston:

There’s a significant risk that KLM will price themselves out of the market they just created for themselves. KLM aren’t cheap, and the Manston service will face two major sources of competition: KLM themselves, who operate cheaper flights to Amsterdam from the London airports; and several other airlines (notably EasyJet) who are about half the price of KLM.”



KLM to start twice daily flights from Manston to Amsterdam from April 2013

Date added: November 16, 2012

KLM has announced a new service from Manston to Amsterdam, twice a day. Manston says this will create 28 jobs in Kent. The attraction is that Amsterdam is a hub for some 130 other destinations. The airport did a survey in September to judge demand for a service to Amsterdam, and of the 9,300 responses some 80% said they would use a direct service to Amsterdam, with 60% then connecting with flights to other parts of Europe. Of those responding 96% said they would use Manston in preference to other airports – Gatwick is not far away. KLM is to run two morning flights from Manston, with one returning in mid-morning and the other in the evening. Infratil still cannot sell either Manston or Prestwick. Flybe pulled out of Manston in March saying flights from Kent were not economically viable. Manston has been valued at £7.6m. But Manston may cease to be an airport if it cannot be sold ….

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