There is more than 90 years of aviation history behind the airport at Manston, near Ramsgate. The air field was constructed during the first world war, around 1917, and was a military air base until 1999. Civil aviation from Manston began in 1935 along side Royal Air Force requirements. The RAF left the air field and it became a solely civilian airport in 1999 when in was bought by Wiggins, a construction company who are no longer in business.
The Cargo of Kent’s International Airport
It is freight which is landing and taking off along the runway every day. In 2018 it handled 33 tonnes of but Infratil Airports, who currently own the airport, is set on expansion and expect freight to treble in 2019. The expansion plans are to make the most of linking with the Ramsgate ferry port and the improved road network.
Light Aircraft, the Red Arrows and Flying Lessons
Manston is a convenient stop of point for many aircraft because it is close to the coast and Europe, although, being surrounded by sea in three directions does mean that it can be quite windy. It is ideal place for those people who love to spot aircraft. The Red Arrows display team frequently land here in the summer months when they take part in coastal air shows.
Because it is not a busy airport it is also an ideal location from which to take flying lessons or fly experiences. These are offered by a number of businesses. Thanet Flying Club, known as TG Aviation, is also based at Manston.
Passengers at the Kent International Airport
In 2019 flights were available to Jersey and for package holidays across Europe, this was on a small scale. Infratil’s Master Plan is to expand flights with a record number of one million passengers expected in 2020 and for this to double by 2020. The airport owners believe they can achieve this because of a number of attractive features to travelling via Manston in comparison with Heathrow or other busy airports:
- Easy to reach by road and rail;
- Cheap car parking close to the terminal building;
- A long, wide run way which is suitable for most aircraft;
- A small terminal which is not too busy means passengers can be processed quickly on departure and arrival.
Cheap Flights, Budget Travel and Package Holidays via Manston Airport, Kent
Package holiday flights for the masses began in the 1960’s and Manston airport was at the centre of this new business. Air Ferry started flying from Manston in 1962 and in its first year took more than 70,000 passengers, each year this number grew, in 1967 Air Ferry took 179,000 passengers to their holiday destinations. These people were being bought from far away by coach and were on the first package holidays. In 1965 competition at Manston emerged from Invicta Airways which eventually merged with British Midland in 1968.
Thanet was busy with international travellers in the 1960’s, in addition to aeroplanes, there were Ferries at Ramsgate Royal Harbour and the Hovercraft to Europe also left Ramsgate from the newly built Hoverport at Pegwell Bay. At the same time, most people still had their holidays within the British Isles. The seaside resorts of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate were very popular with English families coming to stay in the many guest houses for a week or two.
Since the 1970’s and 80’s, with the growth of cheap package holidays abroad for the masses, the Isle of Thanet has suffered because its local economy relied heavily on tourism. In the 1970’s the package flights also moved from Manston to Heathrow and other airports.
The airport was banded London Manston only a few years ago and in 2004 a budget airline called EUJet launched a great number of regular services to British and European destinations. This was a financial disaster resulting in the failure of EUJet. Since then a number of companies have offered a modest number of flights from the airport, some with more success than others. Planned flights to and from Virginia in the U.S.A. had to be abandoned in 2018 for lack of bookings.