Monday, 19 May 2014

The Stress of Losing Manston Airport

Transport Chaos as Government Leave it to Economic Forces 
I was probably one of the very few people that stayed up to watch the Roger and Laura show on late night Parliament a few weeks ago. Sad I know.
The debate followed HS2 debate and after all the MPs had left the chamber with only the transport minister left to hear and reply it was left to Roger to speak. Sir Roger laid out his case for Manston with clarity and dignity supported by Laura.
The minister played lip service and dismissed Manston quoting that it was down to the forces of the market.
This means that our transport policy is now in the hands of big business even though it is against the public interest.
Having just been on holiday and flying from and back into Gatwick I am reminded how our transport system including airports has descended into chaos.
A flight of a few hours to a sunny destination is now a thing of the past. A flight at 6.45am now means leaving home at 2.30 am. On traveling up the M2 you find signs saying that the M25 is shut from junction 3 to 31. Panic what route now? Stress starting to mount now. Wonderful technology flawed by human error (think it should have read 30 to 31). Arrive at parking at 4 am transfer to airport by 5 am. Queue for check in. Then on to security to undress and display all my worldly goods.
Had to throw away my bottle of water in case I blew up the plane with it. Finally get through to departure lounge to join hoards of people. So decide to have overpriced breakfast in order to have somewhere to sit.
Next proceed to gate. After a walk of about a mile made it to the gate to join fellow travellers and finally board plane. Stress now subsiding and ready to enjoy my holiday.
Return to Gatwick pleasant flight landed 12.50 pm. Leave plane walk mile back to passport control. Join 500 yard queue to passport hall. Stress mounting again. Finally arrive at hall and nice man says electronic passports this way others that way. Join extensive queue for electronic passports believing fast track from those without the luxury of new passports. How wrong could I be as I watched masses of people being processed much faster than the high tech queue. Finally get to the new kit. Chaos again as no one knows what to do. After instruction by attending staff it still means that so many travellers cock up the procedure.
Finally get through thinking that all the baggage would have been on the baggage claim conveyor and only ours would be left just going round and round. Oh no hundreds of people gazing at the baggage claim screen saying WAIT. To add insult to injury there were posters advertising the virtues of another runway at Gatwick. I wished I had a felt tipped pen.
Wait we did with increasing numbers of other passengers. Message comes in sorry your bags are still on the plane and will be unloaded soon.
We wait staring at the screen. Nothing happens. Eventually another announcement saying they are on their way. Another 10 minutes pass and screen announces number and a mass of people descend to baggage hall. Stress now high but the end is in sight. Fight to retrieve cases before they disappear. And off we go to customs who do not stop anyone for fear of anger or assault by passengers. Another long walk to pick up bus to car park now with queues because of delayed passengers. Crammed and hot journey back to pick up car. Man on coach said wait was nothing compared to last night with 4 hours delay on baggage.
Nearly there now just got to drive home. Oh accident on M25 and more queues. Eventually home by 5 pm. Wonder why I bothered to go on holiday.
Sir Roger's point that using Manston, Londoners could get from London to Manston and have their bums on a plane seat in an hour and a half seems to me a very strong argument for carriers to base their business at Manston. With Dover a cruise terminal and a high speed link there is so much potential.
My experience tells me that Gatwick does not deserve an extra runway as it continues to operate in and cause chaos now. Another runway there in my opinion is a road to hell.
Thanet has been a high unemployment black spot for as long as I can be remember and deserves better than continuing to be dragged down and down by bunches of asset strippers. Building houses on the airport site is just adding insult to injury.


  1. so.. let me get this right... for the sake of 100 or so jobs ( roughly a third of an average Tesco's) You are quite happy to see Ramsgate completely blighted by the omnipresent threat of Night Flights to make your holidays a little bit easier ? Thanks.

  2. Very well written but my point is that when you look at how long Manston has had to become successful and hasn't. Even with lots of money (£5,000,000 a year) being lost. Then its time to say its over. Also you would have been very lucky to have found Manston flying to you destination.
    You write of Thanet being a high unemployment black spot but also you write in favour of Roger Gale and Laura. Sandys but haven't they been the local MPs for ages? Are they not responsible for some of the unemployment, trying to make Thanet a transport hub is just down right stupid we would all be better off focusing on tourism

  3. Good try, but why would a Londoner drive (statistically the vast majority of passengers use private vehicles to get to airports) past heathrow, gatwick, city, stansted, Southend to come to Manston?

    If you think check in time is a big thing, what other factors are important and the reason manston has failed? Destinations perhaps?

    I think it would be great if we all had an airport in our back garden, but until that point markets forces will rule.

    Market forces have closed manston. Nothing else.

  4. The point is that our transport systems are failing. Concentrating all flights on a limited number of airports means that routes to them are often gridlocked. Manston will not become a hub airport but can be used to take the pressure off the major hubs and surrounding inferstructures. One good carrier would sufficient to kick Manston off. For information I am not a supporter of any political party but reported what I saw as a good presentation of Manston's case.

  5. We have seen umpteen 'good carriers' come and go. All have failed. It's in the wrong place in the wrong era. Surely anyone with an ounce of common would be working with Gloag at this stage to see what her billions could do for Thanet - housing, jobs, charitable work, leisure, retail - rather than harking on the past and bemoaning the fact that they can't fly from their doorstep to the detriment of 40,000 people in Ramsgate.

  6. So its to be a housing estate with a large Tesco in the middle. Moving 1000s to an area with no work, not enough water to supply them and a sewage system unable to cope.

  7. The big tesco will employ a few to start. So will the school, the medical centre, the library, the community centre - if someone at TDC starts engaging with Ann gloag instead of threatening her.

  8. Sorry, Roger didn't lay out the case with clarity and dignity. Firstly he claimed Manston had the facility to load cargo onto rail ( which it doesnt) and he then requested that the Government should dictate where logistics operators should base their business. Robert Goodwill was quite patient, allowing him to rant onto an empty chamber late into the night- mostly rhetoric about war time , tradition , vision , potential to turn the area's fortunes around and provide economic salvation for all.
    Oh, my experience of flying from Gatwick - left my central London office at 16:40 Victoria on Gatwick Express 30 mins (already checked in on line) on plane at 18:10 = an hour and a half at a real airport

  9. If you think Gatwick is so good check out this link:

  10. Buzz, Clearly you have one view of this and I have another. What counts are the millions who choose to use Gatwick / Heathrow as opposed to the handfull who find Manston convenient.