What exactly is RSP’s position on night flights? This is a key question.
Let’s bear in mind that we’ve had pretty universal opinion from local politicians that night flights are unacceptable. Even Roger Gale stated that he was not in favour of night flights (he’s flip flopped on this to be honest).
Over the last two years, we at No Night Flights have been told that we were wrong to assume that establishing a major cargo hub airport at Manston would inevitably mean night flights. We’ve been told time and again by first RiverOak and now RSP that their plans did not require night flights. Time and again, we’ve said that’s a load of baloney.
In the run up to RSP’s consultation period – the one that is only 6 weeks long despite recommendations from Thanet District Council that it should be extended to 8 weeks – RSP finally admitted that night flights would be inevitable.
Despite this, at the consultative events we are hearing that different people are being told different things by different members of the RSP team.
Let’s go over some key facts:
- The European Union defines a night flight as an aircraft using an airport between 23:00 and 07:00.
- Many airports have restrictions on night flights but that generally fall well short of a night time ban . Heathrow, for example, does not have scheduled flights between 23:30 and 04:30 (so not the full 8 hours that is defined as night time) and, in addition, has many late flights arriving after 23:30. Frankfurt Airport – touted by RSP as an exemplar that they would like to copy, had a night flight ban made permanent in 2012 but night time here is defined as 23:00 to 05:00 – again, not the 8 hours accepted as night time.
- Specialist freight services NEED night flights and anyone with a business plan to establish a dedicated cargo hub airport knows this to be true. To attract business to Manston, RSP know that they would have to offer the flexibility of scheduling that is not possible at other airports.
- “…these (freight services) often need to leave at specific times of day to make international connections – this is how the UK remains linked into global express service networks. Freight services are often pushed to more unsociable hours due to the demand for passenger flights at more traveller friendly times. Express services need to operate at such times to fit with customer need – e.g. end of business day collections, delivery by the start of the day.” The Role of Air Freight in the UK
- “Any restrictions on night flights that impact the integrators’ operations would adversely affect our ability to service our customers’ demands.” FTA member in The Role of Air Freight in the UK“
- “The key feature of any new hub airport is that it should be a 24 hour and 7 day operation. This is important to allow express operators to satisfy customer demands for overnight deliveries and to enable transhipment activity. It is important to stress that an airport does not operate in isolation. Warehouses, parking and road infrastructure is necessary to enable next day delivery.” Impacts of a New Hub of Air Freight Industry
- Dedicated freight airports – rather than the majority of airports that focus more on passenger flights which bring in bellyhold cargo – can be categorised as ‘night airports’, such is their requirement to cater for the needs of freight operators.
When you attend any of RSP’s consultation events, and we know there’s been hardly any opportunity for you to do so, please ask some hard questions. If you ask about night flights and you are batted away with ‘oh no, we’ll operate just like Frankfurt which has a night flight ban’ then make sure to point out that it isn’t a full night time ban and that having significant numbers of planes arriving after 23:00 and after 05:00 blights people’s lives.