‘Manston night flights? They’re already here’ and not being fined

18.2.2010     (Your Thanet)
Six night flights were made over Thanet by planes using Manston’s Kent International
Airport in December, but just one was fined, according to figures obtained under
the Freedom of Information Act.
Thanet council only imposed a penalty for a single flight, on Friday, December
The other five flights were not fined because the types of aircraft fell into
the quieter category.
The decision has sparked anger among residents opposing an airport application
to allow night flights.
However, four of the six planes that flew over the isle between the hours of
11pm and 7am were jumbo jets, some of the loudest planes in the sky.
Ramsgate resident Pete Binding said: "Since when is a jumbo jet quiet at three
in the morning?"
The fine imposed on December 18 was for a Cargo Lux B747-400 freight flight that
departed at 2.44am. It cost the airport £1,000.
The other 747s that flew during the night were also Cargo Lux flights and one was an MK Airlines plane.
All were freight flights.
Mr Binding, a former member of Manston Airport Group, which monitors the airport,
said the information showed that the council was presenting its £80,000 night-flights
consultation in "misleading terms".
Airport-owner Infratil wants to be able to let planes land and take off at night
to boost its business and make the airport a more attractive proposition to operators.
"It has been suggested that the consultation is all about giving Manston the
same rights as other airports," said Mr Binding.
"However, as this information reveals, the airport is already able to authorise flights by jumbo jets, at any hour
of the day or night, without hindrance or penalty.
"The only possible reason for wanting an extension to the night-flying policy
is to allow them to fly the noisiest categories of aircraft at night without financial
"I believe that if local people were given truthful information about the real
reasons for wanting a change in the night-flying policy they would be unlikely
to support it."
The consultation process is costing Thanet taxpayers about £80,000, after the
funds to carry it out were agreed by councillors last year.
It is ongoing and councillors will have to take the views into account before
they take a decision.
Fines collected from flight operators who break the rules are given to the Kent
International Airport Consultative Committee and placed in a community fund.
Groups from areas affected by the flights apply for the money to improve community
A Thanet council spokeswoman said: "The council does receive regular reports
of aircraft movements, which are shared by the airport with the consultative committee,
and are placed on the airport’s website.
"One flight on 18 December did attract a penalty of £1,000."
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