Dutch airline KLM will connect East Kent with the world from next April, when it launches twice daily flights between Manston and Amsterdam.
Manston is a little-known airport (for Londoners) located in East Kent, close to Canterbury, Margate and Ramsgate.
KLM will operate the route with 80-seater F70 jets and makes no secret of the fact that the flights are timed to connect with international services at its Amsterdam hub.
But why Manston? With its limited home market, KLM can only prosper by being creative. In other words it must seek out new sources of business.
Not only is it one the most isolated areas of the UK mainland but the East Kent region is underserved by scheduled carriers.
The nearest airports for Amsterdam would be London City (LCY) or Gatwick both around 70 or 80 miles away. But public transport links to either airport are complex while driving conditions (thanks to the Blackwall Tunnel and Dartford Crossing) to LCY are unpredictable at the best of times.
It is true that Gatwick is an easier road journey and that there are plenty of flights from there to Amsterdam. But the point is that these services out of Gatwick are operated by either British Airways or Easyjet. Book the former and you will not obtain the preferential KLM fares for global travel. Book the latter and you will find you cannot interline at Amsterdam so will lose the benefit of through ticket convenience and pricing.
Residents of East Kent have enthusiastically backed KLM’s plans for its Manston service. Early findings indicate that 96 per cent of respondents would prefer to fly from Manston rather than a London airport.
Flight schedules are as follows:
- KL1516 Manston-Amsterdam 0635-0835
- KL1519 Amsterdam-Manston 1010-1005
- KL1520 Manston-Amsterdam 1040-1235
- KL1523 Amsterdam-Manston 2050-2045
Bookings open on November 14. For more information visit klm.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter