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Thursday, 8 October 2009

YES WE CAN: make it work

Profitable. Sustainable. Sound commercial proposition. Good corporate citizen. These are just some of the good things that happen when you work with, rather than against, those around you.

It's not rocket science. It's not even science. It's sense.

Infratil have paid a lot for Manston, and have spent a lot on it since. To see any kind of return on their investment, they need Manston to generate a steady and healthy profit from the air traffic it handles.

BAA, the country's largest airport operator was recently deemed to have a near-monopoly, and has been forced to sell off some of its airports in order to increase competition. The increased competition will bring prices down as airports fight for market share. There won't be any plump, lucrative contracts left - making money will rely on the sheer volume of traffic.

Basic business logic and a few simple facts from the real world lead us to the conclusion that there's going to be a lot more planes over East Kent. This is the time to get our heads together and figure how to manage this so that it works out as well as possible. Recently we had a bit of a mad flurry when Infratil thought they were going to get a cargo contract from BA - everything was done in a rush and nobody was very happy with it.

Thanet District Council are planning ahead for how to deal with night flight requests. Infratil have set out their MasterPlan for the airport. Any change in the pattern of use of the airport, or growth in traffic, will mean that the S106 agreement has to be re-negotiated. The S106 is a bilateral agreement thrashed out between a few dozen people (Thanet Councillors and the senior management of Infratil) but the consequences of the agreement will affect the lives of tens of thousands of people for years to come.

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