|IATA: MSE – ICAO: EGMH|
|Owner||Manston Skyport Ltd c/o Ann Gloag since 29 Nov 2013|
|Operator||Kent International Airport|
|Elevation AMSL||178 ft / 54 m|
|Sources: UK AIP at NATS
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority
Manston Airport (IATA: MSE, ICAO: EGMH), branded as Manston, Kent's International Airport, is an airport located at Manston in the District of Thanet in Kent, England, 11 NM (20 km; 13 mi) north-east of Canterbury. It was formerly called RAF Manston (a Royal Air Force airfield), and was also known as London Manston Airport. The single runway is located about 1-mile (1.6 km) from the coastline at 178 ft (54 m) above sea level and is 2,748 m (9,016 ft) long.
- 1 History
- 2 Airlines and destinations
- 3 Non-passenger operations
- 4 Constraints
- 5 Accidents and incidents
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
At the outset of the First World War, the Isle of Thanet was equipped with a small and precarious landing strip for aircraft at St Mildred's Bay, Westgate, on top of the chalk cliffs, at the foot of which was a promenade which had been used for seaplane operations. The landing grounds atop the cliff soon became the scene of several accidents, with at least one plane failing to stop before the end of the cliffs and tumbling into the sea, which, fortunately for the pilot, had been on its inward tide.
In the winter of 1915–1916, early aircraft began to use the open farmlands at Manston as a site for emergency landings. The Admiralty Aerodrome at Manston was opened in response. A training school, originally set up to instruct pilots in the use of the new Handley Page Type O bombers, was soon established. By the close of 1916 there were already two units stationed at Manston: the Operational War Flight Command and the Handley Page Training School.
Its location near the Kent coast gave Manston some advantages over other aerodromes, and regular additions in men and machinery were soon made, particularly from Detling, in early days. By 1917 the Royal Flying Corps was well established and taking an active part in the defence of England.
Battle of Britain and the Second World War
In the Second World War, Manston was heavily bombed during the Battle of Britain. Barnes Wallis used the base to test his bouncing bomb on the coast at nearby Reculver prior to the Dambusters raid.
Hawker Typhoon and Meteor squadrons were based at Manston during the Second World War. Its position close to the front line and its long and broad runway (built during the war, along with the runway at Woodbridge) meant the airfield was heavily used by badly damaged planes that had suffered from ground fire, collisions, or air attack but retained a degree of airworthiness. The airfield became a "graveyard" for heavy bombers and less-damaged aircraft, offering spare parts for allied aircraft in need of repair. The museums on site display some aerial views dating from this era and the post-war years.
Post-war military and civil use
During the Cold War of the 1950s, the United States Air Force used Manston as a Strategic Air Command base for its fighter and fighter-bomber units. The USAF withdrew from Manston in 1960, and the airfield became a joint civilian and RAF airport, employed for occasional package tour and cargo flights, alongside its continuing role as an RAF base. The Air Cadets used the northern side of the airfield as a gliding site, and an Air Experience Flight flying De Havilland Chipmunks was based there. Thanks to its broad long runway, Manston was used as a diversionary airfield for emergency military and civilian landings.
From 1989 Manston became Kent International Airport, and a new terminal was opened by Sarah, Duchess of York. A number of charter flights operated by Dan-Air to Palma (Mallorca) were introduced on Saturdays during the summer season using their BAC One-Eleven. The Yugoslavian carrier Aviogenex operated a number of regular charters to the then-popular beach resorts of the former Yugoslavia on behalf of the now defunct Yugotours.
Kent International Airport was initially a 38 acres (150,000 m2) civilian area within the former RAF Manston that included the existing terminal building and an apron where passengers embarked and the largest freighters were loaded. The runway was not included within this enclave. In 1988 the owners of Kent International Airport negotiated a 125-year legal agreement with the RAF obliging the Air Force to maintain the runway and to provide air traffic control and ongoing emergency services. The cost of providing runway maintenance, air traffic control, and Fire and Rescue services had been estimated at up to £3m per annum by the Ministry of Defence.
Sale and commercial operations
After an absence of regular charter services, Aspro Holidays operated a series of summer charter services during the 1992–93 summer season with its in-house airline Inter European Airways to Palma (Mallorca) and added a service to Heraklion (Crete), which was often operated using their larger Boeing 757 airliner. Flights continued until Aspro Holidays was taken over by the Airtours Holiday group, at which point these flights ceased. The early 1990s also saw weekly flights to Larnaca (Cyprus) with specialist operator Cypriana Holidays, with Eurocypria operating the inbound flight via Norwich as a split load. This service continued for approximately two summer seasons before Cypriana Holidays went into administration.
Manston was by now becoming known as a commercial airport. However, a 1993 report from the Department of Trade and Industry examined runway capacity in South East England and found that Manston was unsuitable for development as a major airport because of its proximity to the town. Nevertheless, in 1998, Thanet District Council produced the Isle of Thanet local plan, which recognised the economic development potential of abandoned sections of the old military airfield, particularly on its north-western edge.
After the plan was published, the Ministry of Defence announced its intention to sell off RAF Manston. A ruling by the British Labour Government's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown – instructing government departments to generate money through the sale of surplus assets, following the example of the Thatcher government – led to the Ministry of Defence putting the site up for sale.
After the RAF left, local MP Dr. Stephen Ladyman opposed the decision to sell the base to property developer Wiggins Group PLC. The RAF faced a compensation claim of £50–100 million if they then closed the base and terminated their earlier agreement with Kent International Airport. The ministry sold the site at the end of March 1999 for £4.75m to the Wiggins Group, who inherited the legal agreement obliging the RAF to continue maintenance of the airfield. Within six months, the RAF announced that they were leaving the airfield. They sold the remainder to Wiggins at a loss to the RAF of about £65 million.
The airfield today comprises 700 acres (2.8 km2).
In December 2003 the government issued a White Paper on "The Future of Air Transport", which states that Manston "could play a valuable role in meeting local demand and could contribute to regional economic development." The government would support development in principle, "subject to relevant environmental considerations".
Rapid development began in 2004 in an attempt to make it a budget airline hub. Irish airline EUjet, formed in 2002, began scheduled flights in September 2004 to destinations such as Manchester, Edinburgh, and Dublin with a small fleet of Fokker 100 airliners. Car parking areas were built and a direct coach service from Bluewater via Chatham was instituted to support this enterprise, which followed the low fare, no-frills, web-marketing style pioneered by Ryanair in the UK.
On 26 July 2005 all EUjet operations were suspended, along with all non-freight operations at the airport, owing to financial difficulties with the airport and airline's owner, PlaneStation. Their business plan was ambitious and their bankers had lost patience, causing both businesses to fail and leaving many passengers stranded abroad. London Manston Airport plc went into liquidation. Operations were temporarily suspended, along with Manston's air traffic zone and radar services, until a new buyer could be found.
The sale of Manston to Infratil, a company based in Wellington, New Zealand and owner of Glasgow Prestwick Airport, was completed on 26 August 2005. In July 2006 a charter route between Manston and Norfolk, Virginia, was announced: it was cancelled prior to commencement because of low bookings. It was to be operated by tour operator Cosmos in conjunction with Monarch Airlines.
Charter flights were operated from Manston by Seguro Travel Limited, operating as "Kent Escapes". The 2007 Kent Escapes flights were operated by Sky Wings using a McDonnell Douglas MD-80. Seguro then swapped operators on 16 August because of problems. The flights were taken over by BMI for a period. At the end of the season, flights were operated by Futura, a Spanish-based airline, using the Boeing 737. Futura Airlines ceased trading during September 2008 and Seguro Travel on 10 September 2008.
On 15 February 2010, airport CEO Matt Clarke and Flybe Head of Public Relations and Public Affairs Niall Duffy announced a daily service operated by Flybe from Manston to Edinburgh, Kirkwall, and Sumburgh, Belfast, and Manchester. The services were the first daily scheduled routes at Manston since the collapse of EUjet in 2005. Dash-8Q400 aircraft were used. Air Southwest announced seasonal charter services to Jersey every Saturday using Dash-8 aircraft. The FlyBe services to Kirkwall and Sumburgh were operated by the once-daily flight to Edinburgh and then by Loganair to the onward destinations.
Departures were offered during summer 2011 to Funchal (Madeira) with specialist operator Atlantic Holidays, operated by UK charter airline Monarch Airlines but have since been discontinued.
Newmarket Holidays continues to offer irregular charter flights during the summer months to popular destinations including Verona and Naples in Italy, as well as Porto in Portugal using the Lithuanian charter airline Small Planet Airlines for the summer 2013 season.
Iran Air used Manston as a fuel stop for flight 710 from Heathrow to Tehran due to fuel disputes in London.
On 22 December 2011 Flybe spokesman Niall Duffy announced that all services operated by Flybe would cease operations from Manston Airport by 25 March 2012.
On 8 March 2012 Infratil announced the decision to dispose of their European airport operations, putting Kent International and Glasgow-Prestwick Airports up for sale.
On 31 July 2012, a new pressure group Why Not Manston? was established. This aims to support greater use of Manston as an additional airport in the south-east.
On 14 November 2012, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced double daily flights from Manston to Amsterdam, with onwards connections to the rest of KLM's network. The first flight was with a Fokker 70 on 2 April 2013.
Manston Skyport Ltd took over the running of the airport on 29 November 2013 
Airlines and destinations
operated by KLM Cityhopper
|Saudia Cargo||Amsterdam, Dammam, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Nairobi|
Private aircraft based at the airport include a Boeing Stearman. Two museums, the RAF Manston History Museum and the Spitfire and Hurricane memorial, are located on the northern edge of the airfield. These museums offer displays of the aerodrome's military heritage.
A large engineering hangar exists and was built and used originally by Invicta International Airlines. It was used by Modern Jet Support Centre Ltd from 1987 until 2004 when it went into administration. It was used to service Boeing 707 aircraft and later on, Mcdonnell Douglas DC10 aircraft. Cargo airline DAS Air Cargo, took over the hangar in 2006 and were in turn taken over by Continental Aviation Services in November 2007. The facility was used for maintenance on their own aircraft as well as those of World Airways, Omni Air International, Gemini Air Cargo, and Avient Aviation. The company went into administration in early 2009. AvMan Engineering Ltd took over the hangar a few months later. AvMan Engineering have CAA approval to work on BAe-146 and their ALF502 / LF507 engines.
Manston has only one runway, and its flight path goes over Ramsgate, a seaside resort of some 40,000 residents. The town is situated about 1 km (0.62 mi) from the eastern end of the runway. To one side of the runway lies the village of Cliffsend, whose housing is less than 200 m (660 ft) from it. Manston village stands to the north-east of the passenger terminal.
Manston and the other UK Infratil-owned airport continued to run at a loss. In May 2011 Infratil's annual report showed that losses from Infratil's European airports grew from £9million to £11 million in 2010.
Accidents and incidents
- On 18 September 1948 a RAF de Havilland Mosquito crashed during an air show at RAF Manston, killing both crew and ten members of the public.
- On 11 August 2010 a Douglas DC-8-63F YA-VIC of Kam Air suffered a tailstrike on take-off, destroying an approach light. The aircraft was operating an international cargo flight from Manston to Buenos Aires via the Cape Verde Islands. The incident was caused by excess fuel making the aircraft 25,700 pounds (11,700 kg) overweight. After being informed of the tailstrike, the crew continued the flight to the Cape Verde Islands. Inspection on arrival revealed that a tailstrike had indeed occurred, although the tailstrike indicator was within limits. The incident was investigated by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which made four safety recommendations. As a direct result, Kam Air was banned from operating within the European Union. The three crew were dismissed, and Kam Air announced that it would withdraw its two DC-8s from service.
In popular culture
- Defence Fire Training and Development Centre
- List of Royal Air Force stations
- United States Air Force in the United Kingdom
- United States Air Forces in Europe
- Manston – EGMH
- London Manston Airport shown on an Ordnance Survey map from 2005
- Aircraft of World War II
- Space Shuttle Emergency Landing Sites
- [Source: Kent aviation: Roy Humphreys]
- UK Department for Transport, The Future of Air Transport White Paper, (Dec 2003), paragraph 11.99.
- Manston Airport Sold to Infratil[dead link]
- Holiday company terminates Sky Wings contract[dead link]
- Statement from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)[dead link]
- [dead link]
- BBC News Article, 22/12/2011- Flybe to stop using Manston Airport
- "Manston Airport to be sold". Kentonline.co.uk. 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "BA to fly from Kent Airport". Kentairport.co.uk. 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2013-06-19.
- Cargolux winter 2013 schedule
- Saudia Cargo winter 2013 schedule
- Bradley, Grant (18 May 2011). "Infratil revs up earnings after Shell acquisition". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "12 Killed at Air Display" The Times (London). Monday, 20 September 1948. (51181), col F, p. 4.
- Ingleton, Roy (2010). Kent Disasters. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. pp. 117–19.
- Hradecky, Simon (12 May 2011). "Report: Kam Air DC86 at Manston on Aug 11th 2010, tail strike on takeoff". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- "YA-VIC". Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Retrieved 15 May 2011.
- McGhie, Tom (1 November 2009). "Boost for Kent International Airport". This is Money. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
- Official website
- Kent International Airport Fire Service
- RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum
- RAF Manston official history
- "Why Not Manston?" campaign