New twice-daily flights from Manston to Amsterdam

KLM plane KLM flies to over 90 destinations from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam

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An airline has announced a new service from Manston to Amsterdam with the creation of 28 jobs in Kent.

KLM Royal Dutch Airline which is merged with Air France said it will run a twice daily service from the Kent airport to Schiphol in Amsterdam.

In September KLM asked Manston to conduct a survey to find out what the level of demand was for the service.

The new 55-minute flights will link Manston to more than 130 destinations from Amsterdam.

The airport said that of the 9,300 responses to its survey, 80% came from CT postcodes in East Kent.

Analysis

With the first departure to Schiphol at 06:30, local businesses should be delighted that KLM will begin scheduled flights from Manston to Amsterdam next spring.

Experts have long argued that tourist flights to sunny destinations were not enough to sustain a commercially viable service from the East Kent airport. What KLM is offering is an opportunity to do business in Europe and return the same day. Perhaps more importantly Schiphol airport offers connections to the emerging economies of China and Brazil as well as North America.

The option not to drive to Gatwick or Heathrow will appeal to many. The only concern is whether the catchment area for Manston is big enough to sustain the new service on offer.

Just over 80% said they would use a direct service to Amsterdam, with 60% then connecting with flights to other parts of Europe.

Of those responding 96% said they would use Manston in preference to other airports.

KLM is to run two morning flights from Manston, with one returning in mid-morning and the other in the evening.

No buyer found

The New Zealand company Infratil, which also owns Prestwick Airport, put its two UK airports up for sale in March this year.

Infratil said that it would "continue to seek a buyer for the airports and work with local stakeholders to review alternatives".

Together Prestwick and Manston airports recorded losses for the six months to the end of September of just over £2m.

Passengers travelling through the airports fell by more than 180,000 during the period compared with the same time in 2011, although freight business increased.

Budget airline Flybe pulled out of Manston in March saying flights from Kent were not economically viable.

Manston has been valued at £7.6m.

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