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A group set up to promote Manston Airport has described the fact it may close as “horrifying and ridiculous”.
Nicholas Reed, chairman of Why Not Manston?, said it was “horrifying” because of the loss of hundreds of east Kent jobs, and "ridiculous" because of the loss of the airport’s potential.
He said: “Everyone agrees there is a desperate lack of further airport facilities close to London with the London airports working at their maximum capacity. Yet, just over an hour from London, is the massively-underused Manston Airport, which can take the largest planes that exist, and indeed was the designated emergency landing-strip for the Space Shuttle, because of its outstanding facilities.
“It has easy access from London by motorway: a one-hour drive straight to the airport. High-Speed trains are equally fast, and stop at Ramsgate, 10 minutes drive from the airport. For those in Kent fed up with the all the delays and traffic involved in reaching Heathrow or Gatwick, Manston is the ideal solution. And it is a mere 30-minute flight to the Continent.
Mr Reed questioned why the announcement was made on Budget Day, describing it as “a good day to bury bad news”, with coverage of the budget taking precedent.
He continued: “Alastair Welch was the highly successful chief executive of Southend Airport. He was brought in to manage Manston, and decides that it is not viable. In effect, this removes a major competing airport from Southend. Was Mr Welch the best person to reach an impartial decision? “
He said the 45-day period for consultation meant that all staff, including chief executive Charles Buchanan, were forbidden from commenting publicly on the decision, even if they wnated to argue against it. When that period was over, the owners could simply announce they were going ahead and closing it.
“Frankly the whole thing stinks,” added Mr Reed.
He is urging all those who disagree with the proposal to register their support for the continued use of Manston Airport at www.whynotmanston.org
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