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Why Not Manston? What a Load of Schipol

Posted on: April 24th, 2014 by Jules
Canterbury Times 24th April 2014:  How hard did we try with airport?

Canterbury Times 24th April 2014: How hard did we try with airport?

I had the strange experience last week of a reader quoting my column back to me as we queued up at Tesco. I’d only gone there after a fruitless search in Tankerton for some Zovirax cream.

Watching trolleys in front of us stacked with hot cross buns and feeling like one, the woman said how she’d rather be at her local shop but they don’t stock all the things you need. This lady was banging on about it in the paper last week…

This is one of my campaigning issues, immortalized by the Times headline “Whitstable Woman in Custard Shortage.” Amazingly it tickled the taste buds of Fleet Street and the tongue-in-cheek story ran in the Guardian, the front page of the London Metro and became the cover of a book.

My other beef is Manston.

Last Autumn I wrote about my disappointment trying to book a flight on the Manston Airport website to visit Europe’s most popular tourist destination – Alicante. Every flight took between 9 and 11 hours (enough time to fly to Sri Lanka!) and cost over 300 quid. The reason was KLM – the much-heralded bastion of our local airport – was routing every flight via Schipol in Amsterdam.

It can be no surprise to anyone with half a business brain that this venture didn’t take off. For all Roger Gale’s blustering and the Why Not Manston brigade, what did they expect? How could it ever have worked?

Which leads me to wonder why an astute and experienced businesswoman like Ann Gloag would have taken on such an ill thought out venture.

One factor of course was the cost: one pound. Even adding on the airport’s debts, this was a dirt-cheap proposition.

And as KLM’s planes are grounded, there’s a silver lining in the clouds for Ann Gloag. A tried and tested but ultimately failing airport transforms Europe’s longest runway into prime real estate. Developments with aviation themes like Spitfire Mansions and Bomber’s Lodge will give the project some extra pizzazz.

If we’re serious about saving Manston, cut the custard and have a serious discussion. How hard did we try?

Tweet me @julesserkin listen into Business Bunker live Tuesday 1-2:30 on Channelradio.co.uk

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