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Manston welcomes backing for regional airports

Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston Airport
Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston Airport

Manston’s airport chief has welcomed comments by Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, that smaller airports will have a role to play in solving a looming capacity shortage.

The commission has published some 70 proposals, including a four runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary, a second runway at Gatwick and a role for Manston airport as a “reliever” airport.

There is also an option for a new floating airport in the English channel, positioned on a man-made island a couple of miles off the coast near Dover.

Sir Howard played down the possibility of either Lydd Airport or Manston Airport in Thanet being a long-term solution. “It is unlikely that either of these would be a contender for the new hub airport we have discussed. We do need to look at the role these smaller airports can play but quite frankly, I do not think we are going to see a four-runway airport at Lydd.

“The proposals we have received demonstrate imaginative and thoughtful responses to the challenges the commission has been set, but also show clearly the wide spectrum of views that exist on these issues.”

Charles Buchanan, chief executive of Manston Airport, said: “We have always acknowledged that Manston would never be the new hub airport for London and the South East. However, we strongly believe it could be a successful regional passenger and freight airport, that provide critical additional capacity and relief now to the region’s already congested airport network.

“I was pleased to hear that Sir Howard acknowledges that the smaller airports, such as Manston, have a role to play and that the proposals submitted to his Commission have been ‘imaginative and thoughtful’ in how to increase airport capacity in the South East.”

The Airports Comission will publish its interim report by the end of this year and final report after the next General Election in 2015. Mr Buchanan added: “Unlike the major airports of the region, Manston has the capacity to serve the South East immediately, rather than in a decade or more as would be the earliest case at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. In this period of austerity, making the best use of what we already have seems to be the most sensible way forward.”

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