London currently has six international airports. However, an airport in Kent could reopen providing more flight options for those in the South East. Manston Airport could reopen in 2022 after being saved from becoming a housing development.
Not many cities can claim to have as many airports like London, the city boasts two main airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, and two low-cost airports, Stansted and Luton. There are also two smaller airports, City and Southend. Now, Manston Airport in Kent could be looking to join the last two with a reopening in 2022. The airport is eyeing reopening to short-haul flights.
Closed in 2014
Manston Airport closed in 2014. KLM had been flying to the airport from Amsterdam, however, the airport was said to be losing around £10,000 per day of operation. The airport was closed on 15th of May 2014, after the last commercial flight departed on 9th of April.
Since the airport closed, it was announced that Manston Airport would be redeveloped into around 2,500 homes. While this was ongoing, RiverOak Strategic Partners investigated a plan to restore services to the airport. The company has now purchased the airport from SHP, who wanted to develop the housing.
Another Ryanair base?
Ryanair currently operates from four of London’s six airports. These are Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, and Southend. Stansted Airport is Ryanair’s biggest hub. Meanwhile, Ryanair only began operating flights from Southend Airport earlier this year. The airline has three aircraft based at the airport representing a $300 million investment.
From the Essex coastal airport, Ryanair expects to serve one million passengers per year, flying to 13 destinations across eight countries. CH-Aviation reports that the new owners are looking to redevelop Manston Airport. As part of this, they want to introduce passenger flights from Ryanair. Manston Airport could easily reach its target of 860,000 passengers per year from 2024 given Ryanair’s Southend figures.
The new owners of Manston are hoping that getting Ryanair in the door will lead to other interests in the airport. Even potentially stretching to KLM reintroducing flights. However, the owners are also aiming for 174,000 tonnes of cargo per year from 2024. Crucially, they have shown that the plan is financially viable.
Does London need another airport?
We’re constantly seeing plans for the third runway at Heathrow, or a second runway at Gatwick. Why? Because these airports are operating at capacity. According to the BBC in 2018, “The Department for Transport previously said no expansion [at Stansted] would mean London’s five airports reach full capacity by 2034.”
Manston Airport London seventh airport
British Airways used Manston Airport for crew training on both the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787. Photo: British Airways
Opening a new airport could potentially alleviate some of this pressure. However, the airport is located a fair way from London. Carriers are likely to be focused around low-cost operations. This is as full-service carriers are trying to deliver passengers as close to London as possible.
Personally, I see Manston Airport as being a perfect satellite hub for Ryanair in the United Kingdom, however, I don’t see it becoming as big as Heathrow, or even Stansted. Instead, I feel it could potentially rival London Southend somewhere down the line.