The South East Airshow Aftermath

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Monday, June 24 2013

 All of the news following the South East Airshow has been BAD. People are not happy. I attended the event at Manston Airport on Saturday with my family, and thought I would share my own experience. 

 There is no getting around the traffic problem. When we arrived at the Ramsgate Train Station for the free shuttle bus, the bus was full and the driver told everyone it would take him  at least 45 minutes to get to the airport, and he'd still need to come back. There were two taxis so I asked the people behind us if they wanted to split a fare, and off we went. We were lucky. There were two taxis. The queue for the shuttle bus had hundreds of people who weren't so quick on their feet. We got to Manston through a backroad with a clever taxi  driver, and luckily missed traffic altogether. He dropped us off a little off-site and we were blown away when we saw the miles of cars waiting to get in. Until we left, I didn't give the  traffic much thought. There were thousands of people, and for an event that hasn't been done in twenty years I figured it was to be expected.

 We had a nice day out, enjoyed a pint and had a picnic. Perused the tents of local businesses and watched a bunch of planes I had never heard  of fly over the skies. My hair was rocking the wind-blown look and my kid jumped in a bouncy castle like there was no tomorrow. We had a great day. The event itself was well-managed and I thought Heritage Events did a wonderful job putting everything together. 

  That being said, after a nice day at the airshow we decided to head home. This time the shuttle bus was running as planned and we headed back toward Ramsgate station. At this point of the day, most of the show was over but the traffic was still there and went on for miles. We were amazed that so many people were still waiting when the day was practically at an end. There were hundreds of cars that had pulled over on the sides of the road so they could still watch the airshow, others just stood in the stand-still traffic. I wonder if the organizers even considered this could have been a problem? I am not really sure what could have been done differently, there were just too many people going to one small area.

I think the South East Airshow in itself was a success. I imagine a lot of money went into the local economy, and those of us who arrived early enough had a great time. No word yet whether or not refunds will be issued to the ticketholders who weren't able to attend. All in all, a great day out in Kent!


Awesome Skies.

The skies were gorgeous on Saturday!

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Categories: Airport | kent | The Fly Away American | travel

We need a Manston Express!

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Wednesday, December 28 2011

Flybe’s decision to pull out of Manston is another blow to the airport, especially disappointing at the turn of the year.

However attractive we in Kent think Manston is, it seems that not enough people agree.

Flybe’s bold experiment to run flights to Edinburgh, Manchester and Belfast was welcomed, but once again it ends in disappointment. The Manchester service was pulled some time ago, and the Belfast operation was grounded at the end of the summer.

Edinburgh has been popular with leisure flyers, students, servicemen and women, and some business folk. But the lack of a day round trip made it inconvenient for business.

It was a similar disappointment a few years ago when the Irish-based airline EUjet went belly-up after stretching itself over too many services.

So despite the smiles on the ebullient airport CEO Charles Buchanan, Manston has a problem with scheduled passenger services. What message does Flybe's decision send to other would-be operators?

Manston has no difficulty with freight - including horses through its new equine centre - and charter flights to holiday places in the summer do pretty well. Car parking is a breeze. Two minutes after unloading the boot, you are in the terminal.

Yet there just doesn’t seem to be a big enough market for scheduled services. Why is this? OK, the downturn has not helped but there must surely be something more fundamental than that.

One factor is constrained night-time flying. Thanet council should back the airport's modest demands, despite opposition from some residents. It would, after all, be good for jobs and local people desperately need them.

Manston ought to be the solution to over-crowding at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. But the Kent terminal with one of the longest runways in the UK has been largely overlooked in official reports, even though senior Kent people are always talking up its credentials.

Manston’s disadvantage is that it’s more than 60 miles from London. At the eastern end of the UK, It is not surrounded by chimney pots.  But remote airports are not seen as a disadvantage by the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet who bus people miles from a cheap out-of-town terminal.

Roads like the Thanet Way are pretty good but potential customers from South East London probably think they are worse than they are.

So make it easy.  A Manston Parkway station and dedicated high-speed railway –a “Manston Express?” – would make a huge difference. The Regional Growth Fund allocated some welcome cash for a track upgrade. For a fraction of the cost of a Boris Island or Foster's Grain proposal, upgraded links would transform Manston's image. It would be great to see politicians "getting it" in 2012.

But the sad truth at the moment is that investors - and other scheduled operators - will be wary of committing to a terminal that keeps suffering setbacks.


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Categories: Airport | Transport

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