Published: 13:22, 15 February 2008 |
Updated: 16:19, 18 February 2008
KENT County Council leader Paul Carter has hit back at Boris Johnson's call for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
Mr Johnson, the Tories' London mayoral candidate, is calling on the Government to reconsider plans for a new airport in the estuary instead of going ahead with the widely opposed plans for a third runway at Heathrow.
But Cllr Carter on the other hand believes Kent International Airport at Manston could be the solution to improve airport capacity and has invited MP Boris Johnson to see for himself.
He said: "Manston provides enormous opportunities for aviation technology and services and support of the aviation industry.
"An airport on the Thames Estuary is never going to be viable or popular. We don't need it when we have a perfectly positioned, ready-for-action, airport in Manston.
"I look forward to welcoming Boris to Kent to see what Kent has already on offer."
Manston has one of the few long-haul runways in the UK and currently has the capacity to run 700,000 passenger flights a year.
Mr Carter stressed with one million passengers through Manston this would create between 1,500 to 2,000 jobs in an area which has some of the highest deprivation in the country.
Matt Clarke, the chief executive of Kent International Airport, has backed the county leader’s calls for the airport to be better utilised.
He said: "Kent International is a significant piece of aviation infrastructure. We are one of the few airports in the UK with a long-haul capable runway and we already host daily Boeing 747 freight services at Manston.
"We have the capacity to soak up some of the South-East’s excess demand for runway capacity. Using facilities that already exist makes much more sense than building a new airport."
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