Cut flight tax to boost Manston Airport, boss urges minister
Transport minister Simon Burns at Manston Airport with
chief executive Charles Buchanan
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
The government has been urged to cut the "flight tax" for
passengers using regional airports such as Manston.
Airport Passenger Duty has been rising steadily, often adding
hundreds of pounds to business flights and family holidays to
It is one of the reasons why so many are switching to hub
airports in countries with lower duty rates.
KLM's twice-daily shuttle from Manston to Schiphol, starting in
April, is expected to capitalise on this trend.
Charles Buchanan, the Thanet terminal's chief executive, invited
transport minister Simon Burns, who visited the airport this week,
to be an advocate for local airports - which would include
lobbying for differential duty rates.
He claimed regional airports offered a solution to the south
east capacity challenge, could respond quickly and at a fraction of
the cost of constructing new runways at main airports such as
Heathrow and Gatwick – or in the Thames Estuary.
KLM flights from Manston
Airport will begin in April
"I believe that the minister recognises the role that the south
east's secondary airports can play in meeting the runway
demand," Mr Buchanan said.
"What we now need to do is persuade him to be an advocate for
airports and discuss with the Treasury the role of financial
incentives, such as differential Airport Passenger Duty, could play
in encouraging the more efficient use of the existing available
capacity, as a way of stimulating economic growth."
Mr Burns was also given a stark demonstration of the need for
faster rail journeys along the whole line between London and
After making the 37-minute journey between St Pancras and
experienced the much slower pace of the remaining distance to
He was told that a £6.8million investment in track improvements
the line from Ashford to Ramsgate into a high-speed route
- and enhance
east Kent's attractiveness to job-creating firms, especially
Discovery Park, the former Pfizer site at Sandwich.
Kent is also bidding for a £12m Parkway station to serve the
airport and commuters.
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter said: "We want
to offer a seat on the train to a seat on the plane in 90 minutes