Opinion: Jane Wenham-Jones: I can’t wait to fly from Manston again. In the meantime, an apprentice please?

Manston airport site

Hark!  Is that the sound of pens  – and possibly knives – being sharpened across the Isle? Do I hear the rattle of keyboards; the sounds of chests inflating? There have been some great divides across Thanet in my years as a local journalist – most recently in 2016 when the turkeys voted for Christmas and the rest of us lay in a darkened room, weeping – but the one that gets  feelings running high quite unlike any other (with the possible exception of the closure of public loos after 9pm when the fireworks are on) is the thorny matter of Manston Airport.

I do not see eye to eye with Sir  Roger Gale on every issue, by a long chalk, but when it comes to the utilisation of our local airfield for aeroplanes, as it was intended, instead of a mini Milton Keynes in all the ghastliness that image conjures, I am right there, shoulder to shoulder, with the long-standing North Thanet MP. (The same applied to his views on the turkeys.)

Sir Rog was amongst the first to give a thumbs up to the announcement that the Department of Transport has approved the Development Consent Order, that will allow Manston owners RiverOak to operate a freight hub with, in theory, a passenger terminal to follow.

The Thanet MP cited job creation, and a boost to the local economy from the quoted £300 million of investment promised to produce “a state-of-the-art zero-carbon” airport as “a shot in the arm for the nation”.  I’m just focusing on the thought of cheap flights to Spain.

Or even expensive ones. To France as well, preferably. Or simply any hub where one can jump planes to get to wherever the hell one wants.

I  become quite misty-eyed over those halcyon days when KLM flew out of Manston, and have never understood why more locals didn’t take advantage of such a great service before the evil Ms Gloag broke all her promises and flogged it off.

The worst part of any trip abroad is the schlep to Gatwick, followed by the queues and the wait and the further schlep to the gate and the wait and the queues. And then, on one’s return, the endless snaking lines to passport control and the wait for baggage, and then still having an hour and a half drive home, if you’ve been lucky enough to locate your car quickly and aren’t embroiled in a major domestic over who was looking after the ticket,  and double that on public transport if you haven’t.

Compare and contrast the one-time Manston experience where checks were speedy, one’s baggage was already trundling round the carousel by the time one walked round the corner from customs, and it was perfectly possible, if a lift had been booked, to be back in one’s kitchen uncorking the wine a mere half an hour after touchdown. I flew to a string of European destinations while it lasted and even did Manston to New York. Why ever would you not?

Sir Roger claims Manston will be the most environmentally-friendly airport in the world, when it’s up and running this time. I say it will be right on my doorstep. And I can’t bloody wait.

SO DISHY-RISHI is on another spending spree. We can now indulge in half-price burgers from Monday to Wednesday, buy a house without stumping up stamp duty and coin in a grand if we keep employees on longer than we otherwise might. Or get in twice that amount for hiring an apprentice.

It all sounds good, and I hope it is. I just wish I could shake off my general unease about human nature. I know people who’ve been pressured to work while furloughed and I expect you do too. The National Audit Office fears £1.5 billion may have been lost through criminals ripping off the newly-relaxed Universal Credit system during lockdown, and how many opportunists are going to see the offer of two grand as a chance for some free labour without anything coming of it at the end?  I’m half-tempted myself. With a new novel on the go, due to be delivered in a scarily-short space of time, I would indeed welcome the gratis help of some impressionable young thing. A “research assistant” perhaps, whom I could teach to use the coffee machine, clear up mouse entrails, empty the dishwasher and periodically shriek: ‘do I have to do everything around here?’

No experience necessary.  A love of animals and  a basic knowledge of the correct temperature at which to serve Macon Blanc Villages, preferred…


A differing view

Opinion with Cllr Karen Constantine: Seeing Red – Flight of fantasy is not the answer to Thanet’s plight.


  1. “I become quite misty-eyed over those halcyon days when KLM flew out of Manston, and have never understood why more locals didn’t take advantage of such a great service..” And therein lies the entire story of Manston. It’s in the wrong place and the catchment isn’t big enough to make it viable; doubly so, now that the mother of all recessions is looming. I wonder how much support this project will get when it becomes apparent that there will be no passenger services and few jobs.

    • As much support as it has had all the way through the campaign gto use the airport again. you obviously do your homework and research . in the wrong place what for Cargo. its in an ideal place.and if there is going to be a recession, it needs positivity like your opinion to just make it worse, you are not in media by any chance are you.

    • May I apply for the apprenticeship….happily chill your Macon Village to a soothing 14c to 15c…

    • Quite right Fairweather, NO passenger flights will be available, so Jane will be waiting in vane for a flight, unless she is a trained pilot!

  2. If your new novel is half as interesting as your article, I for one will be looking forward to reading it.

    • What a stupid article from a woman who lives in the safe haven of Broadstairs!! Tell you what Jane lets exchange you live in Ramsgate and I will live in your home in Brodstairs. No!! Thought not, you are not that stupid. Stick to writing fiction as factual issues are beyond you.

      • My dear old Gran used to say..if you can’t put your point across politely…..better to not put it across at all.

    • Have you acquainted yourself with any of the information in relation to the fact that this is a 24/7 cargo hub? I am delighted that you a presumably Broadstairs resident are so pleased about the possibility of local flights…….because the flight path is not over Broadstairs. I wonder how keen you would be in you lived in Ramsgate or Herne Bay?

      • I lived on the Newington estate in Ramsgate in the 1960’s when the Americans were based at Manston. It was not just one plane flying over it was squadrons of planes 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Windows were not double glazed to keep out the noise,nobody complained of the noise then. I have also flown from Manston, to what was then Yugoslavia when Yugotours used the airport. It was a great experience not having to drive all the way to Gatwick. The war in Yugoslavia was the only reason that Yugotours pulled out of Manston as it was very popular.

        • If you’re so keen on living conveniently near a busy airport, Jane Wenham-Jones and Jen Small, why don’t you move to live near one? Why didn’t you move years ago, when the airport closed? Why didn’t you move when you read the reports saying that Manston was not a good place for an airport?

          Because now, RSP have got a DCO for somewhere which has never been a commercially successful airport, and the options for the future are 1) there will be some sort of aviation-related miracle and RSP will produce a cargo hub airport that will be so successful it will be hell to live near: 2) history will repeat itself, RSP will have a nominal go at aviation then give up.

        • A long time ago, but this is not what is being proposed here. This will destroy the area not enhance it.

          • And a “mini Milton Keynes” would enhance it? Infrastructure cant cope at the moment. The pollution and congestion and noise from 2000+ extra cars would outstrip any aircraft effect

        • Very good comment i totaly agree with u. But they will keep moaning was there yrs before homes were

          • If cars are so bloody awful why do so many people go ballistic whenever anybody suggests that cars are a massive problem and the solution (part of it) is better public transport ?

  3. It is primarily a cargo hub but RSP has always said it hopes to have a few passenger flights too. Cargo will come first and then it will depend on which airline(s) want to fly from here. In order to keep costs down that will either be as KLM did – have a late evening arrival, overnight plane here and then early morning departure. Or an airline which will have one or more planes based at Manston which can offer different routes. Most planes operating in Europe do three rotations a day, so operating to different destinations on different days of the week, we could have a variety of destinations. Manston will of course never be offering long haul flights. I just hope there is something to Pisa and / or Naples!!

  4. Rose tinted spectacles seem to have taken over any rational analysis of Manston as an airport here. It was a financial disaster before and was not supported by nearly enough East Kent residents to make it anywhere near economically viable. The fact that Tony Freudmann is the principal of RSP should encourage all those who are against the proposal to open Manston as a cargo hub with a possibility that passenger flights may start at some unspecified time in the future. Just look at his astonishing track record as a solicitor, running a travel company and finally airports.
    It has never been viable as a commercial airport (as opposed to a military airfield) and never will be. The forthcoming severe recession and huge contraction of air traffic as a result of the pandemic spells doom for this ill conceived project. Eventually it will be redeveloped for housing and business, it is just so sad that Ramsgate in particular will be blighted for years until the inevitable happens.

    • I bet being so positive keeps you going !
      For once there is a company that want to develop the site and create much needed jobs for an area with high unemployment and severe poverty..
      If houses were to be built where on earth would all the people work, oh forgot they don’t work do they, just undesirables from London
      So instead of moaning, get behind the project and support it, as for Ramsgate it’s hardly a Mecca for holidaymakers is it

    • Read my comment above about Yugotours, they were very profitable, until the war started in Yugoslavia. I have lived in the Thanet area for over 70 years and when Manston was a busy thriving airport, Ramsgate and the surrounding towns were also thriving. Unlike now when people like yourself have probably never known the old Thanet.

      • Manston was never a busy, thriving airport. In its various guises, including under the management of Tony Freudmann, it went bust over and over again. Having amassed losses of £100,000,000 over its lifetime, it finally closed whilst losing £10,000 a day.
        What’s happened since it closed to suddenly make it viable?

        You just might get a zero carbon airport (electric forklift to unload the crate of daffs, for example) but I don’t think that any time soon you’ll see zero carbon aircraft.

    • what plans would you personally have for Ramsgate, tourism ? it failed years ago. a ferry port it also failed years ago. Take what you have and develop it along with Manston and the recession and Brexit might seem that bit sunnier

      • Personally, I would fill the port area with small industries.

        I don’t think Brexit is in the least bit “sunny”. The sooner Britain redevelops a manufacturing economy, the better. Otherwise we will remain dependent on China for far too much of the stuff we buy .

  5. So your dreaming of being packed in a shipping crate in the cargo hold with no heat good on you Jane its a cargo hub with a possibility of flights down the years, if it ever happens (I wish it well) the people who are glad that the airport will have a future need to use it more than they did when it was up and running as an airport before, I doubt that they will,

  6. As Jane rightly points out, it is having an airport which is stopped – and indeed has stopped – Thanet from becoming a city. That’s why Cliffsend, Manston, Minster and Acol are still separate villages, just as they were 100+ years ago.

  7. Jane is, no doubt, being deliberately provocative on such a divisive issue to generate comments. However, she (like many others) have missed an important detail. Riveroak Strategic Partners already own the former airfield. Subject to obtaining the requisite licence they can start flying whenever they want.
    The only difference a DCO makes is that it changes the planning basis for the airport. Formerly, planning would have been the responsibility of Thanet District Council. This would have covered the operational and development aspects of the airport. Such matters are in future covered by the DCO and effectively elected councillors answerable to the local community are removed from the process.
    So, if the local population have concerns about with the way the operation pans out, say should it be old noisy freighters and mainly at unsocial hours and no passenger flights then there is little that we can do about it.

  8. Jane,I see you have put up a post in SMA about the abuse you are getting on here. What a hypocritical bunch they are on there. What about the post they have put up about a certain ‘anti’ that’s okay then.

      • Marva I think most people will know which “anti” I’m talking about. The post is as one can expect vile using his intials as a “sex reference” and the admin joins in.

        • I don’t know what you mean actually or who this person is. I don’t know what “initials as a sex reference” means.

  9. The proposed new lower Thames crossing will provide quick access to Essex, home counties, and the north for freight.
    A Ramsgate Parkway station minutes from the airport will mean a one hour journey from London. This could prove more popular than overcrowded and often longer journey times to other London airports.

    • ‘often longer journey times to other London airports.’ You mean like Stansted 51 mins, Luton 45 mins, Gatwick 31 mins or Heathrow 15 mins?

    • You’re seriously suggesting that passengers will catch trains from London, travel for an hour to Parkway Station, wait for a shuttle bus or expensive taxi to get them up to Manston Airport – only to discover it’s a freight hub?
      BTW, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Southend airports all have railway platforms within the airport.

  10. Usual Turkey’s praying for Christmas turnout Shows the usual IOTN favourable bias towards Manston. I hope all those people who live in Ramsgate who support RSP never want to extend their property because Ramsgate will be in a Public Safety Zone (PSZ. That will prohibit any building that increases the number of people who can live in the PSZ. In effect a planning blight on the whole town. Things like the Pleasurama development would not be allowed in a PSZ

  11. So Jane you decide to put up a post in your favourite airport supporter group with the tag line “The abuse has started” you then comment further below the tagline “someone has sent me a screenshot (which you haven’t posted to validate your comment) from within the no night flights group – they are really gunning from me there” Goebbels would have been proud of you as he refined propaganda.
    Having looked at the NNF sight NO ONE is gunning for you at all. Most comments find it difficult to understand how you come to your viewpoint and I agree with your “misty eyed” view because RSP have applied for a Cargo licence, their DCO is for cargo so unless you intend to go in a crate you will be waiting and waiting.
    Why you have posted lies is difficult to understand as I thought it was the job of those who post “OPINION” pieces to act as mediators not feed people’s hysteria

  12. I do laugh at the comments about how much noise it will make, the planes dont sound like rattly old 747’s anymore and hasnt for many years. Those who lived under the flight path all their life have no problem and if they did they have since moved on. Those who moan about it now are mostly pensioners who moved down from London who didnt do their research properly, it just shows how much they know of the area if you have lived here all your life you have more of a say than someone who has rocked up for five minutes.

    If I was a pensioner wanting to move from London I would be looking at if airports existed around where I was moving to, if I was bothered about the so called ‘noise’ (which Im not) I would do my homework and see what area would be right for me. I can only laugh at those who are now kicking up about the decision, its your own fault for buying a house next to a flipping runway lol.

    There is the other side of the anti stance that just dont want it and not everyone will agree thats fine but can you honestly say its ever blighted Thanet’s tourism like some claim? the seaside is what draws holiday makers down in the summer months, the winter months is a time when nothing really happens. If anyone can provide statistics that say Manston has ever effected tourism in Ramsgate or Thanet as a whole I would be interested to read, if not then its just rubbish concocted by people who cant just accept a decision. The airport was here before any of us! and the area is rubbish for employment, cafe culture and summer jobs doesnt cover it. A working airport will provide thousands of jobs, houses will not provide that!

    Manston is back like it or lump it, move if its that much of an inconvenience. If you do move at least research next time where local airports are before you start a new life 😉

    • The Minister who granted the DCO actually knows it will blight Ramsgate because he said so. Still what does he know after all he doesn’t live here just like you

      • Actually I do live in Thanet and have done all my life and my stance is its going to be good for the area. If the minister said it will blight the area he wouldnt have allowed the decision for it to re open, or maybe he changed his mind and feels it will do well with so much investment in it.

        • How naive you are.And as for your stupid comment ‘ Dont move near an airport’ When I moved here it was just an RAF base which posed no issues in fact the RAF was part of the community and we embraced them. This proposed behemoth however will bring total destruction to Ramsgate and beyond. And going on from you comment, I suppose if you moved near a quiet road which was later going to be turned into a dual carraigeway you would not mind one bit? Yeah right!!

        • “In reaching that view, the Secretary of State notes the ExA’s view that the Development may adversely affect the tourism industry in Ramsgate. Whilst he is sympathetic to any residents and business holders that may be affected, he also notes the ExA’s overall view that it would increase the attraction of tourists to other parts of Thanet and the wider East Kent area” para 42 in his decision letter
          I’ll take that as an apology

    • The person who overruled the advice of the planning inspectorate doesn’t care if it blights the area or not; he or she is making a political decision not a logical one based on facts.

      I don’t see why someone who moved here five minutes ago (metaphorically speaking) can have less say than someone who’s lived here all their life, considering that the factual evidence re pollution, noise, viability etc are the same whoever reads it.

    • May I remind you the decision made by the Planning Inspecorate was refusal of the DCO. Read the bloody PI report as to why they recomeded refusal.It was disgracefully overturned because certain people wanted and airport. Get you facts right before you comment

  13. Jane might believe the question of Manston is a thorny one however her misty eyed comments do nothing to unite the people of Thanet. Even the Minister who overturned the opinion of 4 experts acknowledges at para 42 in his decision letter that Ramsgate (a town of 42 thousand souls) will be a necessary sacrifice. I doubt Jane actually read the letter either. He said
    “42. The Secretary of State’s conclusions on the need for the Development are set out
    above in paragraphs 20 and 21 and, whilst noting the ExA’s view that the jobs created would not be to the same extent as forecast by the Applicant [ER 8.2.183], he concludes that significant economic and socio-economic benefits would flow from the Development to Thanet and East Kent as well as more widely including employment creation, benefits to general aviation and regeneration benefits. In reaching that view, the Secretary of State notes the ExA’s view that the Development may adversely affect the tourism industry in Ramsgate. Whilst he is sympathetic to any residents and business holders that may be affected, he also notes the ExA’s overall view that it would increase the attraction of tourists to other parts of Thanet and the wider East Kent area”
    Note the words “sympathetic to any residents and business holders” he missed out “but who gives a monkeys because they voted Labour and Green party in the local elections anyway. Craig and Roger will not be affected so all OK then”
    Some might consider Jane’s comments to be utterly selfish but the travelling in a crate was never appealing to many.

  14. Does para.42 mean “tourists who want to come to Kent won’t want to go to Thanet if there’s an airport at Manston but they’ll go to other bits of Kent instead, so it doesn’t matter”? Is that really what the planning inspectorate concluded?

  15. Marvellous stuff. This week Kathy gave free rein to her commenting Luca Brazi. “Make them a comment they can’t ignore my dear out of touch friend”

    But editorially Kathy was always conscientious and so asked Jane a question to ensure she was up to the task.

    “Jane dear from whence do you get your water?”

    Jane replied “Out the tap”

    Kathy smiled, “Write about Manston this week”

  16. Can someone tell me how the numbers stack up?

    They tell us the investors are putting in £300+ million and they are going to want to start seeing a return on their investment. Just a measly 1% return is going to see the airport need to turn a £3 million a year profit at least, it has never seen a profit before !

    They say the airport will open employing 1,500 people and at a conservative £13k annual wage that is a nearly £20million annual wage bill

    Given even just these two numbers alone they will need to have a turnover of over £23million. An established airport like Southampton only turns over about £30million per year, so how is Manston going to suddenly bring in all this money when they only way they will get anything there is with ridiculously low fees !!

    The eye is always on housing as that is the only way the investors are going to see a return of any size……

    • Indeed. And the unknown is Environment Agency enforcement of United Nations Stockholm Convention coincident with RSP development phase. Something that would also apply to plans to develop housing.

    • Its interesting when the anti like me post like Egon say the numbers dont stack up. We ask the pro manston to answer them they never do.

      They never say how the aviation fuel brought in by tanker is going to be cheaper than buying of the grid.
      They never say why manston without any decent road or rail is going to be cheaper than an airport that has this.

      Why fly in your cargo into manston only for it to be stuck on the M2 / M25. Why refuel at manston when it’s cheaper at ever other airport.
      Do people real think that thanet has 1000’s of people ready to run an airport !.

      As a stand alone airport it has nothing going for it at all, no fuel, no decent roads, no rail, not enough homes to bring in the 1000’s need to run the airport. Only a mad person would build a cargo hub miles from the centre of a country, with no road or rail connections. Midlands airport plus others are in the right place manston is not, it’s a simple as that. It wont reopen the money makers wont invest.

  17. Just Fantastic News, can’t wait to see the first aircraft landing on Runway 10/28 and to be onboard the first passenger aircraft a year after the cargo hub has opened. ?

  18. This article is poor, and is factually incorrect. I get misty eyed about wanting to fly on Concorde, but it went bust.

    Oh, and the USAF left due to horrific noise, so if some here didn’t notice, then they were in the minority.

    The Isle of Thanet News should be renamed Tony n Rogers Bugle, Your Daily Plane Spotting Sentiment from Planet Thanet.

    The MP who made this decision categorically confirms that Ramsgate is the sacrifice here. What a gross injustice to our community.

    All for some sentiment and anti development vehemence. Please don’t tell me any of the supporters have a passion for cargo loads. What rubbish.

    Freeze dried fish all round?

    Stop pushing free RSP publicity and then saying ‘oh but someone else is gonna say something else about something else.’


    • Very rarely have comment from Roger actually. RSP gets the same amount of publicity as anyone else who is part of a large project in Thanet. Jane and Karen have both chosen to write about Manston, as columnists I do not dictate what subjects they are allowed an opinion on. The fact that Ramsgate was noted as taking an impact was in the news article. And those members of our Thanet community who are opposed to the RSP plans probably get more of a platform on here than any other local news outlet so please stop pushing the ‘you won’t let us speak out’ line because that is factually incorrect, I ask NNF/RTC/Karen Constantine and others for input on every news article I do about Manston.

    • As a plane spotter You get some decent cargo planes, now if you get an An-12 it upset Greta on take off ?. ??

  19. I think Plain Jane is excellent. A sort of other worldly ReesMoggian quality about her which lends itself to an amusing quality in her work.

    For example not a clue what is so funny about Mr Driver. First let me tell you about his school. “This school don’t make vandal drivers”

    Why did Mr Driver leave Bleak House out of his anti Dickens graffiti itinerary?

    Probably Jane was thinking “It must be that steep hill”

    On Manston issues Jane ? Not a scoobie!

  20. “and have never understood why more locals didn’t take advantage of such a great service before the evil Ms Gloag broke all her promises and flogged it off.”

    Two simple reasons why it’s a bad idea, which sadly I think won’t change any time soon:

    1 money… East Kent is not a well off area (check any list of deprived areas across various topics) and sadly any additional financial pressures later this year will mean the majority of residents will be lucky to pay their bills let alone skip off on an international holiday! So that’s why more locals haven’t used passenger services at manston. Go much further than east Kent and you’ve got Gatwick to meet your needs.

    2 money… Private investors want to make lots of this stuff, experience suggests even the likes of klm with huge pockets can’t make this airport work. So what’s different now? It doesn’t seem to be the health of the aviation industry, quite the opposite.

    I grew up in thanet and would love to move back nearer family one day. I think any government money would be much more useful to a wider proportion of residents if spent improving the community which has been systemically deprived for years, support youth, unemployed, elderly in community projects and social care. Don’t suggest this airport will magically solves all these problems with a few jobs!

    • Think you find KLM was doing ok before they got forced to stop the route time will only tell if they come back, which I understand if was the case they want a 10 year contract that it won’t close. Also how many more residents have moved to Kent since it closed.?

      Kent the Garden of concrete might as well rename Planet Thanet the City of Thanet.

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