Twice-daily flights taking only 40 minutes from Manston to Schiphol, near Amsterdam cold soon be a reality.
Manston Airport has confirmed, says Kent Online
, that it is in talks with Dutch airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (part of Air France more also known as Air France-KLM).
Schiphol, the destination airport, provides direct links to the rest of Eurppe, America, Asia and Africa. Which, no doubt, New Zealand-based Infratil is hoping will enable them to sell the airport that, like all the airports they own, they have been unable to run out of the red.
This move comes as Air France-KLM seeks new markets to replace projected and actual losses. According to PR Week Air France-KLM has been hit by the economic downturn and volatile oil prices suffering heavy losses. The Franco-Dutch airline also plans to cut more than 5,000 jobs.
Yet all this unsettledness could provide the boost that Thanet has been hoping for. Apparently Air France-KLM have enjoyed a monopoly on certain niche routes which is now coming to an end as Philippine Airlines (PAL) announce that they might be taking on a significant margin of the Philippines traffic to Europe. B World Online writes
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is currently the only carrier offering flights to Europe under its Manila-Taipei-Amsterdam route.
Feeling the pinch Air France-KLM is attempting to position itself as the go-to airline for long-haul business and leisure bookings from the UK. On the 3rd of September Air France-KLM launched a £1m tactical marketing campaign for its KLM Royal Dutch airline focused on London, Scotland, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol. With, according to Marketing Magazine
one third of London's buses carrying the "Pack & Go" campaign message.
So as recession and rising oil prices cause havoc for the rest of the world Manston stands to gain considerably as a result. This news only goes to demonstrate that night flights are not needed to make Manston viable.
Air France-KLM are coming in with more than just good intentions. They clearly have a plan that is already in operation. According to Kent Online KLM are saying that they will only come in if we want them to. They even have a survey you can fill out here. The survey runs until 5pm on Friday the 12th of October.
Charles Buchanan, chief executive at Manston Airport has officially said:
The airline has asked us to conduct a survey of local residents to find out what the level of demand is for the service.
While this seems like a great attitude (and it is) it is also nothing short of Marketing Genius. Before they have spent any significant money KLM will have a significant local profile from the buzz the survey will have generated. They have actualyl found a way to tap into the ground swell of local activists to generate a self directed marketing team that will preach the word of KLM for them.
With that level of nuanced savy operating out of Manston I see success in their future. What about you?