A report for the firm hoping to reopen Manston airport as a cargo hub claims it will create 30,000 jobs in 20 years

Manston airport

A report published on behalf of the company aiming to reopen Manston airport by securing a Development Consent Order from the Government claims the revival could create almost 30,000 jobs within 20 years.

The report has been published by aviation academic Dr Sally Dixon of Azimuth Associates and is the fourth, and final part, of a submission from RiverOak Strategic Partners as part of the Development Consent Order  process.

RSP hopes to reopen the airport as an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation. It bought out the DCO rights from the original proposing company RiverOak corporation last December.

Photo Adam Dark

In it Dr Dixon says: “This report describes how the number of jobs created by airport operations at Manston has been forecast.

“Direct on-site jobs are predicted to be 2,150 by year 5, of which 697 posts are forecast to be created by the airport operator. The direct employment figure will rise with increasing freight tonnage and passenger numbers.

“By the end of year 5, the indirect and catalytic jobs forecast to result from the operation at Manston Airport are 4,515 and 8,601 respectively, and 8,970 and 17,085 by the end of year 20.

“The total figure for jobs created by the operations of Manston Airport is forecast at around 30,000.

“These figures represent a wide range of long-term opportunities for aspiring local school leavers, college graduates, and those at all stages of their careers.


“Construction jobs required in the redevelopment of Manston Airport are shown separately since these are impermanent positions.

“Before RiverOak reopens Manston Airport, a total of eight freight stands and three passenger stands for aircraft will be constructed as well as warehousing and fuel storage to meet the forecast demand.

“Further construction will take place in years 4, 10, and 15. The redevelopment project across the 15-year timeframe is forecast to require 1,475 people working years.

“From this figure, the number of construction workers required is forecast to be between 600 and 700. There are also likely to be additional jobs created for off-site work by local construction companies.”


George Yerrall, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, said: “From the date that the airport reopens, almost 6,000 jobs would be created – around 850 jobs on the airport site itself and a further 5,000 indirect and catalytic jobs in the wider economy, in associated industries or businesses.

“The positive economic impact grows each year along with the airport. We have forecast up until the 20th year of operation, by which time 30,000 people in Thanet and East Kent would be able to trace their job to the revival of the airport.

“We have a real opportunity to tap into a proven demand for air freight that other South-East airports simply can’t meet. The £2 billion lost to the UK economy each year is set to almost double by 2050, even with an additional runway at Heathrow. Manston Airport is ideally placed to help recapture this traffic, which is being displaced to northern Europe. In meeting this demand, we create huge employment potential for Thanet and provide a powerful economic boost for the nation.

Photo Dean Spinks

“We are in the process of discussing with local colleges and businesses how best to maximize career and supply chain opportunities in Manston.”

Dr Dixon, an academic attached to Cranfield University, said: “Thanet District Council’s economic development plan is ambitious. The council is starting from a challenging situation, given that local employment, productivity and wages are generally lower than in other parts of Kent.

“My research evidences that a vibrant air freight hub at Manston will be vitally important in stimulating thousands of high quality jobs at the airport and in the local area, helping the council to deliver an economic output that puts Thanet on a par with rest of Kent.”

RiverOak Strategic Partners is preparing for the next stage of consultation on proposals to reopen Manston airport. The consultation is expected to start in June, after the General Election.

Click here to read the report.

Homes and businesses proposal

But theirs is not the only vision for the site.

Landowners Stone Hill Park want to create homes and businesses at the site.

The company has submitted a masterplan to Thanet District Council for 2,500 homes; an advanced manufacturing focused business park; sports and recreational facilities, with the former runway becoming the focal point for a network of parkland, trails and outdoor space, and a ‘heritage hub’ at the site.

Stone Hill Park says it expects its planning application for the site to be examined by Thanet council later this year.

Stone Hill Park’s plans can be viewed here

The company has been asked for comment on the latest section of the RSP report.

US interest

Another potential investor was also revealed this month with the announcement by DTD Consult of interest from an American logistics firm which says it wants to buy Manston airport and pump in £100m with the aim of relocating 12 aircraft currently in Europe to the 750-acre plot.

What the report says the employment areas would be:

  • Freight services
  • Passenger services
  • Rescue and Fire Fighting Services
  • Airport operations
  • Maintenance
  • Site and freight security
  • Administration
  • Air Traffic Services


  1. A day to celebrate. If you have any Labour or UKIP Councillors in your ward, ask them if they have read Dr. Dixon’s peer-reviewed work. If they hesitate, ask them if they’ve read even volume 4, published today! Ask them if they understand its methodology and its mastery of the evidence upon which it relies. Ask them if they believe that the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State for Transport will want to lose this project which clearly sets out to provide the intrastructure necessary to rank as a “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project”? Ask them if they really want to reject or be indifferent to an injection of that many jobs in East Kent and particularly their impact on Thanet. Ask them which part of the deprivations and lack of opportunities for local individuals and businesses that the report addresses are acceptable to Labour or UKIP. Ask them how much pain and distress they expect to feel when an aircraft or a horseless carriage pass by at a rate of about once ever half hour or even twenty minutes during waking hours!

  2. I worked at Manstoncrash fire and CTE Fo’s some 14 years. I went on to work in Africa in Aviation for some 16 yea rs. I sent students from Africa to the Fire School. I was responsible for the Fire and Safety development of 2 ICAO CAT 9 airfields and the upgrading of others including Sun City.I developed the concept design for 3 different
    types of aircraft crash tenders which were built locally in Africa, andwe’re easily maintained and met ICAO standards and prime mover manufacturers standards and were exported to other African countries. There is a dire need today for appliances like this in Africa which could be coach built at Manston; crews could be trained and tech. Support offered. Ib would like to be included in this development if it starts up. Regards,C.B Reeves, MIFIRE E.

  3. By year 5, following the re-opening of Manston Airport, RiverOak Strategic Partners (“RiverOak”) expect to directly employ about the same number of people as Thanet District Council directly employees. The total number of people employed on the airport, however, will then be three times that number. And the number of jobs attributable to the airport’s operations within Thanet and the wider East Kent community will be twenty times the number of people employed by Thanet District Council. The majority of those people will be recruited and trained locally. The impact of that upon the economy will be HUGE. The amount they will pay in Tax, National Insurance and Council Tax will be IMMENSE. The degree to which that will help to alleviate Thanet and East Kent’s chronically high levels of deprivation, unemployment and under-employment will be vastly greater than the capacity of Thanet District Council to do the same. All of that can be seen or deduced from what Dr. Dixon’s evidence-based figures shows. The time you take in reading and considering CAREFULLY each of the four parts of her study on the Business Case and Socio-Economic Impact of RiverOak’s Manston Airport plan will be time worthy of taking on with a view to seeing how that can affect you, your children and the lives of your neighbours and friends.

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