London’s Seventh Airport Set To Open In Kent

London currently has six airports, each with an individual characteristic. However, a seventh could be about to join the mix as the United Kingdom government today gave consent for Manston Airport in Kent to be reopened, primarily as a cargo hub for London and the South East.

Manston Airport, Reopening, Cargo
Manston Airport in Kent has been permitted to reopen. Photo: Getty Images

In 2018, London Heathrow Airport was the seventh busiest airport in the world and the most active in Europe. However, combining all six of London’s Airports makes the city the busiest airport system by passenger traffic in the world. Indeed, between them, the airports handled some 180 million total passengers in 2019. Now a seventh airport could join the system.

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Marston Airport reopening

The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has been mentioned in our reporting a lot recently, with regards to the United Kingdom’s 14-day quarantine. However, today Shapps is in the news for a different reason entirely. He has given development content for Manston Airport in Kent to be reopened.

The airport would have a dedicated air freight facility designed to handle at least 10,000 air cargo movements per year. However, it will also be permitted to offer passenger and VIP travel services, in addition to aircraft maintenance facilities.

Manston Airport, Reopening, Cargo
British Airways flew its first Airbus A380 into Manston for training before it closed. Photo: Getty Images

£300 million investment

In its 2017 consultation report, RiverOak Strategic Partners, who are behind the project, said that they expect to invest £300 million ($378 million), in the airport during the first 20 years. However, when fully opened, the airport would have 23 aircraft stands. This would create over 4,200 jobs at the airport itself, with a further 26,000 created indirectly.

Thankfully, as much of the old infrastructure, such as the runway, taxiways, and apron still exist, developing the airport shouldn’t be too difficult a task. The runway would undoubtedly need to be repainted, as it is currently on standby as a lorry park for the DFT.

According to the Save Manston Airport Association, the airport’s reopening is currently targetted for 2023. Commenting on today’s announcement, the association said,

“This go-ahead from the government now enables RSP to invest over £300m into rebuilding a state-of-the-art 21st century airport at Manston… This will create many much needed jobs for the Thanet and east Kent area, and will enable rejuvenation of the local economy.”

Manston Airport, Reopening, Cargo
The airport is set to cater to cargo primarily. Photo: Pixabay

Why did Manston close?

Almost exactly a year ago, Simple Flying reported that Manston Airport was looking to reopen. It closed six years ago in 2014. While KLM has been flying to the airport, it had not had much else in the way of passenger traffic. The airport was said to be losing around £10,000 per day towards the end of its existence. That’s far less than airlines such as Lufthansa have been losing due to the current pandemic.

The last commercial flight left Manston on April 9th, 2014. The airport’s runway closed just over a month later on May 15th. While it was open, British Airways had used the airport for training. Indeed, the airline even flew the largest passenger aircraft in the sky, the Airbus A380, into the airport before it entered service.

The airline now uses Chateauroux in France for such flights. Coincidentally, almost the entire Airbus A380 fleet is currently stored at the French Airport.

Are you excited that Manston is being given a second breath of life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!