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Entries in FlyBe (20)


CPRE aren't impressed

Night flights at Manston have been an extremely contentious issue for many Thanet residents. Some believe that allowing the flights will bring economic prosperity to the area, with much needed local employment opportunities. Others believe that it is unlikely that many jobs will be created.

We took the stance some time ago that we did not believe allowing night flights would bring any real economic benefit to the residents of Thanet, and may in fact bring real harm to the area due to the impacts of noise and air pollution.

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Flybe, Manston, night flights and the truth

We wondered whether night flights would have made a difference to Flybe's decision to quit Manston.

After all, Charles Buchanan's constant message in the media is that night flights are essential to the airport's long-term commercial success, and Flybe is exactly the kind of high volume passenger carrier that Manston wants to attract (and keep).

So had the lack of scheduled night flights made Manston less attractive? Would scheduled night flights have persuaded Flybe to stay?

So we asked them...

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Trevor wants a Parkway

Kent Online's business editor Trevor Sturgess argues for a Parkway station and high speed rail links, but I think he's missed a few relevant points [my comments are bracketed in italics].

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.

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CPRE says night flights at Manston will not boost business

The campaign group says night flights could actually damage Thanet’s economic growth. Protect Kent, the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s county branch, says there is little evidence that night flights at Manston Airport will significantly help the local economy. Campaigns manager Andrew Ogden said:

“The fact that Flybe are pulling out in March because they cannot fill planes is damning proof of the lack of demand for flights out of Manston.

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David Foley backs night flights

As part of the continuing PR offensive, Manston airport has roped in David Foley to bang the drum for night flights, as if they're not noisy enough already. The local papers are describing David Foley as "business leaders", despite the fact that there is very obviously just one of him. More of this in another post.

News that the airline operator Flybe is scrapping Edinburgh service sparks new demands for more flexible flight schedules. 

Business leaders in Thanet have demanded that night flights be given the go ahead at Manston airport in order to attract passenger airlines after Flybe confirmed it was to scrap its service to Edinburgh in March. The firm said the route was not proving financially viable – thus delivering the latest blow to the terminal as it looks to establish itself within the mass market.

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That was then...

The airport's CEO Charles Buchanan is delighted:

"Fantastic - Flybe is here to stay! This is a massive vote of confidence in Manston by the UK's number one domestic airline and confirms its commitment to Kent."

Manston Airport website


Flybe quit Manston: analysis

Too few passengers

Flybe's decision makes it absolutely clear – Manston does not have the makings of a successful passenger airport.

The current owners of Manston airport (Infratil) have always pushed the story that they want Manston to be a mixed passenger and freight airport. We know that Ryanair and easyJet have both examined Manston airport carefully in the past. They both came to the same conclusion: if Manston airport was 10 miles further West, it would have a large enough catchment area to have the potential to succeed as a passenger airport.

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Flybe quit Manston

Flybe has said it will not be flying from Manston International Airport in Kent after March. The airline said it would cease operations there at the end of the winter season. Flybe launched its Manston to Edinburgh service in May 2010. Flybe spokesman Niall Duffy said:

"We tried different routes and the numbers simply weren't there. It's impossible to sustain routes without the passengers.

Unfortunately for the Manston services it was just impossible to look at those passenger numbers and think that we could sustain the kind of difficulties we were facing.

It is fair to say that Manston is one of the airports with the smaller catchment areas in the United Kingdom, and you have Gatwick not too far away."

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Flybe says UK's domestic air travel boom is over

Flybe has declared an end to the boom in domestic air travel as the regional airline reported a deepening drop in demand for British routes.

The Exeter-based carrier runs domestic services which include Manchester to Norwich and Aberdeen to Gatwick, but the fallibility of its business to UK demand has been underlined by two profit warnings this year.

Flybe avoided another surprise on earnings on Wednesday as it published first-half results, though an increase of pre-tax profits in the six months to 30 September of £8.2m to £14.3m had been forecast to be significantly higher at one point this year. Before the profit warnings, Flybe had been expecting to make £36m.

As well as the poor profits performance, the results contained a further admission of weakness in the UK market. Flybe said winter bookings were down 1% compared with last year, confirming a deterioration of sales on top of an already poor outlook. Only last month Flybe had forecast a 1% increase in winter bookings.

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Q: What DOESN'T connect George Best, John Lennon and Robin Hood?

A: Flybe

George Best is Belfast's airport, John Lennon is Liverpool's and Robin Hood is Doncaster's. Flybe used to have scheduled flights connecting them, but that was before their share price fell through the floor after their recent profit warning.

In Charles Buchanan's position, I would be rather by worried by the second paragraph of Flybe's statement...

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Flybe plummets

Flybe seems to be having a rather tough time at the moment. Following the grim fact of its second profit warning in 5 months, the market analysts don't have anything very encouraging to say. And if you think the words are bad, wait till you see the pictures...

All this will come as unwelcome news at Kent Irrational Airport, who like to present Flybe as a sign of great things to come. Unfortunately, it appears that the so-called "thin routes" that Flybe is operating out of Manston are the ones most susceptible to the downturn in demand.

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Job losses at Manston Airport

Four jobs are to go at Manston Airport in a cost-cutting programme amid speculation that a new service to New York is poised for take-off. The airport, owned by New Zealand company Infratil, has been losing money on its operations and needed to cut costs to give it a more secure future.

Airport chiefs recently examined working patterns to see where cost savings could be made. This process and staff consultation has identified savings of more than £350,000 and the loss of four roles. Charles Buchanan, airport chief executive, said:

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Belfast route opens

New flights have started between Manston and Belfast's George Best airport. The first of the Flybe services arrived in Thanet at lunchtime on Thursday. Flights will run between Manston and Belfast three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The route takes 90 minutes and will initially run for the summer, with plans to extend it if the service proves popular.

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Airport expansion could bring 3,500 jobs

New research for Manston airport owners Infratil shows that the airport could create 3,500 jobs in the local economy, but only if more flexibility is allowed for night flights. The study by aviation consultants York Aviation into the economic impact of Manston suggests it would contribute nearly £65 million a year to the local economy by 2018, if its masterplan development is realised.

The research indicates the airport would provide direct employment for 2,070 people and a further 1,035 jobs in the wider economy by 2018, on the basis of the masterplan. The findings reinforce the claims in the airport's masterplan and Infratil's vision of developing a South East regional airport that would offer scheduled passenger services, chartered flights and handling international freight.

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Manchester "unsustainable". Belfast "attractive"?

Flybe scraps Manchester service from Manston and launches Belfast flights

Regional airline Flybe is grounding its service between Manston and Manchester and replacing it with a new summer operation to Belfast.

The service to Northern Ireland will operate three times a week and begin on May 26. Flybe said its services between Kent International and Edinburgh were popular and would continue. However, it was suspending its Manchester service from April 4 because passenger numbers had made the flight "economically and environmentally hard to justify."

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From Manston to Manchester in 70 minutes

Scheduled daily flights to Manchester took off from Manston for the first time on Monday as the airport continues to expand its services. The new schedule offers connecting flights to Glasgow, Belfast, Orkney and Inverness and complements the existing flights to Edinburgh. Both services are with low-cost airline Flybe.

Manston chief executive officer Charles Buchanan said:

“They are award-winning, stylish destinations that are perfect for short breaks from the south east. These routes underline Manston’s value as an excellent regional airport for the south east. And we’re so easy to use. Where else can you park within sight of the check-in desks?”

He predicts demand growing for Manchester from both the business and leisure markets, now that you can get there quickly six days a week. 

“It takes over four hours to drive to Manchester, and if you take the train, you’ve got to go via London which can take in excess of 5 hours, so it’s a no-brainer. And it’s not just a time-saving benefit. Manston is a real hassle-free experience. We’re easy to get to, there’s no M25 to negotiate and you can board the aircraft metres from where you park your car.” 

Meanwhile, Newmarket Holidays will add two new holiday destinations in 2011 flying from Manston to Spain and Croatia. There will also be package tours to Lake Garda, Venice, Spain and Portugal. Mr Buchanan said:

“Flying to the sun are the routes that we are most frequently asked for from Manston. I am delighted that Newmarket has recognised this and is offering new services to Spain and Croatia. “

Thanet Extra 7th Sep 2010


Buchanan hails return of scheduled flights

A new airport chief has hailed the return of scheduled services as a major milestone for Manston. Charles Buchanan, who has completed his first month as the new chief executive at Kent International Airport, joined the Manston operation, run by New Zealand company Infratil, shortly after the launch of Flybe scheduled services to Edinburgh. A new service to Manchester is due to start in September. Flybe is the first scheduled operator to use KIA since the demise of EUjet several years ago.

Mr Buchanan has taken over from Matt Clarke who has returned to his native New Zealand. He was previously strategy and communications director at London City Airport, and has also held posts with Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel. Mr Buchanan said:

"The restarting of daily passenger services to Edinburgh in May was a major milestone for Manston. The commitment that Flybe have shown by announcing daily departures to Manchester too is an endorsement of the work of the team and the potential the airport has to offer. Having a successful regional airport is a major element in the regeneration of an area, not only by providing direct employment, but also giving access to the markets of the world."

Infratil is aiming to invest £3m in a new radar system at Manston which is designed to ensure the airport is able to operate successfully as wind farms are developed offshore the Thanet coast, including the giant London Array.

kentonline 28th Jul 2010


Manston-Edinburgh flights start

Airline Flybe is to launch a service to Manchester from Manston from the autumn. The announcement comes on the day Kent International Airport launches its Edinburgh service. The Manchester schedule is to start from September 6.

Meanwhile, scheduled flights returned to Kent International Airport when Flybe's Manston-Edinburgh service took off for the first time last Thursday (20th May 2010).

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Jobs created at Manston for Flybe flights

The new Flybe daily passenger service from Manston to Edinburgh has helped to create 20 new jobs at Kent International Airport. Airport owners Infratil say all the new recruits all live locally. Their task will be to ensure the passengers of Flybe, Newmarket Holidays and CI Travel which operates charter flights and holidays to Jersey, "have the best possible experience when passing through the airport", says the company.

The new members of staff will be responsible for check-in and customer service, as well as sales and marketing, operating the shop and the security of the airport. Manston now employs 112 staff to manage the airport's passenger and freight operations, including the new recruits who have just completed their training.

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FlyBe Bombardiers at Manston

Better planes for better landings?

I notice to my delight that the Bombardier Q400 FlyBe will be flying twixt Edinburgh and Manston is cleared for the 5.5° approach at London City. This is much steeper than the approach most planes use over Herne Bay.

Will Flybe be taking advantage of that when they land from the west at Manston? It would mean they’ll be flying far higher over the populated areas before starting their final descent and will therefore be less of a nuisance in terms of noise.

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