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KLM – Thanet MPs welcome Thanet take-off

November 14th 2012

Thanet`s Members of Parliament, Sir Roger Gale (North) and Laura Sandys (South) have both welcomed the news that KLM/Air France is to commence a regular twice-daily service between Manston International Airport and Schiphol.

Welcoming guests to the launch of the service, which will take off (with a former British Red Arrows pilot in command!) on April 2nd 2013 Sir Roger Gale said:

“For more than twenty years a few of us have staked our faith in the belief that Manston has a job-creating future as a successful regional airport. We have, of course, seen some false starts but this is the first time that a major international flag-carrier has made a commitment to regular flights to mainland Europe.

With Schiphol`s status as one of Europe`s fastest-growing inter-lining airports this move really does connect Kent with the rest of the world and the rest of the world with Kent.  I congratulate Henri Hourcgarde , the General Manager in charge of the project, and his team on their vision and wish them well”.
And Laura Sandys says:
“I am delighted that KLM have decided to start offering flights from Manston. This makes Thanet even better connected with the rest of the world and makes our area a more attractive place to invest. I am very much looking forward to supporting KLM to ensure that this route is a success”.
Following the formal launch of the service Sir Roger Gale added:
“With the prospect of a truly fast service from Central London to East Kent I believe that this project not only has every chance of success but it underscores something that I have been saying for far too long.  People can dream of a Third Runway at Heathrow, a second runway at Gatwick or “Boris Island” but all of those dreams are twenty years down the construction line and the demand for more capacity in the South East is immediate.  Boris Johnson has told me personally that he believes that Manston is “too far from London” to play a  major role in meeting our short and medium term needs while Government decides how best to proceed.  I suspect, however, that KLM/Air France know rather more about aviation than either Mr. Johnson or those who are advising him.  Journeys are measured not in distance but in time.  While geographically Heathrow and Gatwick and even Stansted may be slightly closer to central London than Manston,  by the time that you have factored in traffic jams on the road out of Town or on the M25 and allowed at least two hours for a check-in at Heathrow or Gatwick Manston is actually closer in front-door to aircraft terms than most of London`s airports.  While London dithers over an estuary airport pipe-dream we are losing business to mainland Europe and as “London Rotterdam” became the major seaport so “London Schiphol” could well overtake Heathrow as the major inter-lining centre with all of the consequent damage to our other business interests that that could mean.
I am, though,  delighted that KLM/Air France have made the commitment to East Kent. I trust that Thanet District Council will now come off the fence and make a similar commitment to the future of Manston and that the development of the fast rail service from Ashford though to East Kent will be given the priority that it demands.. I hope and believe that the new KLM service will quickly grow and attract passengers from across the South East of England who want to eliminate traffic jams and time spent waiting in airport lounges

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