Notices & News

BACA calls for maximum use of UK runway capacity

26th February 2015

The Baltic Air Charter Association has advised that it is of the opinion that Manston airport, in Kent, should not have been allowed to close.

A key factor in BACA’s decision is that for many years Manston was the RAF master diversion airport and as such, always provided a valuable service to the whole aviation industry. Manston has one of the widest runways in the UK and is capable of handling every type of aeroplane, including extremely large commercial and military aircraft. Manston is in such an important strategic location, the close proximity to Europe means that flight times are reduced and fuel savings increased for many European destinations.

In addition, with the recent announcement regarding the closure of RAF bases Mildenhall and Alconbury, BACA is keen to support organisations involved in utilising these runways to maximum effect.

There are many reasons why BACA has taken this decision, the most important being the lack of available runway capacity in the UK to cope with future requirements. A recent survey by KPMG concluded that by 2030, just 15 years away, the London Airports will be full to capacity. Airlines from Asia and other parts of the world are choosing to operate services from Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, instead of London. Even if the incoming UK Government of 2015 makes a decision within a year of coming into office, there will undoubtedly be 10-15 years of appeals and enquiries and more appeals. It is fair to say that there is little chance of 3,000 metres of new runway being laid and put to use, at whichever airport is chosen, within the next 20-25 years.

Runway capacity is worth £billions annually to the UK economy, bringing in investment, tourism, and links to many regions of the world. The UK economy will continue to lose trade, commerce and finance if UK politicians continue to delay vital decisions regarding airport capacity.

While it is apparent that Manston is never going to handle 50 million passengers a year, it could free up capacity at other airports by becoming a hub for air cargo, taking 5-10 freighters a day. Manston’s runway can already handle the world’s largest aircraft; A380, B747, AN-124 aircraft, without any modifications. This will potentially free up 2,000 inbound and 2,000 outbound UK runway slots annually. Utilising Manston as a dedicated cargo hub could free up capacity at other UK airports, to focus on passenger and non-cargo traffic. By adopting similar plans at other airports, such as the recently announced closures of the RAF bases at Mildenhall and Alconbury, this proposal can offer a solution to the future shortage of UK runway capacity. This is the proposal that BACA supports.

BACA asks for the UK Department for Transport to investigate why Manston airport was allowed to close so quickly and to lend their support to all the local and international companies that are prepared to invest and reopen the airport.