Head of Thanet District Council says Manston Airport development plans are doomed to fail

A candid interview with TDC leader Rick Everitt has revealed that the Labour councillor believes that plans to re-open Manston airport will never get off the ground. Said Everitt: “Whatever you think about Manston, the question is: is it viable? “

Commercially Manston Airport has never succeeded. It failed three times and closed in 2014, handling just 3,000 tonnes of freight a year. It lost investors £100million and cost locals their jobs and, in some cases, personal investments. Experts say Manston Airport is unviable and not needed.

Thanet Cllr Rick Everitt” “I don’t think Manston will re-open as an airport”

Everitt was quizzed last week about TDC’s role in the future of Manston Airport on a podcast called Kent Politics (Episode 5). “It’s really up to the legal process to sort itself out,” he said referring to the ongoing legal challenge to the Manston development, which is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal next month.

Thirty eight minutes into the podcast the councillor confirmed that the fate of the airport was out of TDC’s hands.  Said Everitt: “The reality is – despite what people say every time there’s an election – Thanet District Council has no say, at this point, over whether the airport opens or not. The big question for the owners is whether or not they’ve got a viable business plan.”

When pushed about the chances of the airport development being a success, Everitt responded. “I don’t think it will re-open as an airport, if I’m honest, because I don’t think the plan is likely to be viable. All the studies that have been carried out on this – that have challenged the need [for the airport] – have said that there isn’t actually the demand for it. My view is that, whatever you think about it, the question is: is it viable? And my personal opinion is that is it unlikely.”

A Kent County Council report on the airport noted: “Manston has failed over a prolonged period of time to run as a commercially successful airport. Kent County Council gave strong support to various investors but the reality of commercial aviation at Manston Airport led to very significant losses.”

In 2019 the Govt’s Planning Inspectorate examined proposals for re-opening Manston and recommended it should not go ahead, stating: ”Manston appears to offer no obvious advantages to outweigh the strong competition that [other] such airports offer.”
Aviation experts – including Ove Arup, Avia Solutions and York Aviation – predict the airport will continue to struggle because of its remote location, lack of local demand and strong competition at existing airports.

Listen to Rick Everitt talk about Manston here:

You can hear the full interview on the Kent Politics podcast here:


A Judicial Review to challenge the Govt decision to grant planning permission for Manston Airport has been launched. You can contribute here: https://tinyurl.com/26mwy5xz


“It’s time to pull the plug on Manston Airport”

Campaigner Jenny Dawes, who is taking the UK Govt to court over the re-opening of Manston Airport, says it’s time for local MPs to stop misleading the public.

Ramsgate resident Jenny Dawes has been spearheading a Judicial Review against planning permission to re-open Manston Airport since 2020. She says its time for local MP’s to be honest about the project which many predict will fail.

Last month Dawes was granted permission to make further arguments against the development in the Court of Appeal. Says Dawes: “There are very valid questions to answer. The appeal has been granted on the grounds of Need for the airport. Reports by aviation experts – and the Govt’s own Planning Inspectors – already concluded that there is no need for the development. The 2019 Govt Examining Authority report concluded that RSP had failed to demonstrate sufficient need for the airport. If the airport is not needed, then the jobs, the economic benefits and the profits will never happen.”

Thanet MPs Roger Gale & Craig Mackinlay: “misleading the electorate”

Dawes, who has crowdfunded her legal challenge in the High Court, continues: “The political promise of prosperity can’t be delivered. Our local MPs are unfairly filling the people of Thanet with false hope. If global aviation experts like Ove Arup – commissioned by the Dept for Transport – agree the airport is not needed, then why are they being ignored?”

“Airport owners Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP) are not aviation experts. The airport has never worked commercially. It has failed three times and was more profitable as a lorry park than it was in 15 years as an airport. Throwing money at something doesn’t make it more viable. The investment figures being quoted to develop Manston are absurd. No serious investor would touch this.”

Adds Dawes: “Manston Airport closed 10 years ago. Too much time and public money has been wasted on this. RSP had an £8.5 million handout from the Dept for Transport for delays that didn’t materialise to a development that is not needed. It’s time for the Govt to pull the plug. It’s time for MPs Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay to stop misleading the electorate and start encouraging more realistic and sustainable investment in the area.”

“We’ve already missed a great opportunity for developing the 800 acre Manston site as a garden city with businesses, light industry, schools, doctors and leisure facilities, but that was blocked by our local MPs. As was a proposal to develop the site as an international film studio. Meanwhile, our local green fields, farmland and villages are now being lost to Govt house building quotas.”

For more on Jenny’s campaign against re-opening of Manston Airport visit:




CARMA has uncovered evidence that flightpath consultations with East Kent residents affected by the cargo hub at Manston Airport are not being conducted openly, contrary to CAA rules.

CAA map of East Kent potentially affected by Manston’s flightpaths.

This map on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website shows the area across East Kent potentially impacted by Manston Airport’s proposed new flight paths.  Under CAA rules airports have to liaise with all parties (known as stakeholders) affected, or potentially affected, by environmental and noise issues.

CARMA has uncovered a video of Manston Airport director Tony Freudmann which shows he is restricting consultations to a select group of people.

Up to 30 East Kent towns and villages could be affected. Yet Mr Freudmann says that he will be holding public consultations in just two of those locations.

Filmed at an invite-only meeting with Thanet MPs Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale, Mr Freudmann says he intends to consult with “fans” of the airport and adds he will only enter into dialogue  with people “who are genuinely interested in the impact of the airport as opposed to it not happening at all.” 

This is contrary to CAA rules known as The Gunning Principles which state: “The airspace change sponsor [Manston] must enter the consultation with an open mind and take all views into consideration.”

CAA rules add: “Failure to deliver an open, fair, transparent and effective consultation will result in the sponsor [Manston] having to re-consult.” This would mean having to scrap the entire process.

Manston director Tony Freudmann at a Save Manston Airport Association meeting . Watch from 12m 30s to 13m 40s and hear Mr Freudmann say he will be restricting flightpath consultations.

Manston Airport was granted planning permission by the Govt against advice from aviation experts and its own Planning Inspectorate which investigated the site and concluded that the airport was not needed and would “have a material impact on the ability of Government to meet its carbon reduction targets”.

As well as this video, CARMA has also obtained evidence from key stakeholders – including two East Kent councillors and several community organisations – who say they have either been ignored or actively rebuffed by airport developers RSP on the CAA flightpath process. One of them, The Ramsgate Society, has now filed a complaint directly with the CAA.

Chairman John Walker says: “The Ramsgate Society is a member of the long standing and distinguished civic society movement with 700 members.  RSP held two meetings in Ramsgate on 5th November under the banner “Design Principles Focus Group”. The Ramsgate Society was not invited to be represented at either session.”

CARMA has also been made aware of a press ban on flight path reporting, after a journalist was ejected from one of the focus groups by Mr Freudmann who threatened to halt the consultation unless the reporter was thrown out.

If you have evidence of Manston Airport not being transparent, contact us at [email protected]

The CARMA online petition, asking for more transparency on Manston’s proposed flightpaths, is now past 1,000 signatures, double its original target.  If you haven’t signed please go to:


Some of the proposed flightpaths out of Manston cargo hub development which could affect up to 30 towns across East Kent