Below are answers to some of the many questions we’re often asked about our plans for Manston. 

About the DCO decision

How do the plans for Manston fit with Government policy on aviation?

The Secretary of State for Transport makes it clear in his decision letter that the DCO proposals for Manston are consistent with all relevant Government policies, including not only the Airports National Policy Statement but also the Aviation Policy Framework, General Aviation strategy and Transport Decarbonisation Plan, as well as recognising the contribution Manston will make to resilience in UK’s under-pressure freight transport sector – something the Government is also focused upon, given the challenging global and domestic economic climate.

In addition, as an airport with more than 100 years of operational history, the use of Manston is also consistent with the Government’s ‘Making Best Use’ policy.

How do the plans fit with the Government’s carbon reduction objectives?

RSP has always recognised the importance of ensuring balance between Manston‘s clear economic benefits and its operational responsibilities, acting always as an efficient, innovative and proactive member of the UK aviation sector.

Our plans for Manston ensure that the airport can make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of aviation and is aligned with the Government’s 2022 Jet Zero consultation policy proposals.

Manston, as essentially a completely new airport offers significant benefits in terms of future proofing for new technologies that will enable us to more than play our part in meeting this target. As set out in our proposals, we will be investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure to ensure that the operation of Manston Airport will be efficient and can achieve net zero emissions from its ground operations.

By way of just one example, we are already in dialogue on how we can potentially utilise artificial intelligence, EV and hydrogen technology and access to the Thames Estuary into central London to reduce both the carbon output of ground operations at the airport, as well as the transfer of shipments to and from Manston.

In the air, we expect to see significant developments from airlines using Manston, be that improvements as a result of the redesign of airspace procedures, the renewal of fleets towards more

What is happening with the Judicial Review?

RSP is delighted that, after two days of hearings at the High Court and several months of deliberation, in September 2023, Mr Justice Dove dismissed the application to quash the Government’s approval for the Manston Airport Development Consent Order. This was a highly significant and positive development towards our aim of turning Manston into a state of-the-art air freight hub underway and working to support the long-term economic development of East Kent.

Wouldn’t Manston be better utilised as housing?

The Government designated Manston as a nationally significant transport infrastructure asset for a reason.

We share the view that Thanet is rich in potential and deserves the opportunity to build economic prosperity through the development local jobs and local enterprise – and a valuable, dedicated base for the UK air freight, logistics and supply chain operations.

We are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in the future of Thanet and East Kent, re-invigorating a strategic asset to boost the potential of future generations, rather than stripping it bare for housing developers to reap the benefits from.


Aircraft flying over and landing at/taking off from Manston

How many planes will be allowed to fly in and out of Manston every day?

Even when operating at its future peak (circa twenty years after reopening), Manston Airport will average no more than five large aircraft movements (an arrival or a departure) per hour.

The Development Consent Order restricts RSP from exceeding an average of just under three cargo movements per hour and, eventually – once passenger services return to the airport – an average of just under two passenger aircraft an hour.

These figures are averages – so could there be more at certain times of the day?

The nature of cargo flights is different to passenger services and so we expect the traffic to be reasonably evenly spread, although there may be a few times of day where there are no movements at all, and others that are more popular. The DCO specifies restrictions on the maximum number of passenger movements at key times of the day to ensure that passengers travelling to and from the airport do not coincide unduly with busy times on the local roads.

If you’re only having five large aircraft per hour – why do you need 19 large aircraft stands?

Aircraft spend different amounts of time on the ground between services – some less than two hours, others all day – depending upon their next destination and the nature of their cargo. We will have only a few aircraft flying in or out during each hour of the day but will have a significant number on the ground at any one time.

When will we know what the new flight paths will be over Manston?

Before Manston Airport can reopen as an airfreight hub, new air routes must be approved through a detailed airspace change process set out in the Civil Aviation Publication (CAP) 1616.

The airspace change process has now reached Stage 3. In reaching Stage 3, the CAA has confirmed that it is satisfied the airspace change proposal, up to this stage, is in accordance with the CAA’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy and UK Masterplan.

During Stage 2, RSP and specialist consultants developed a number of options for the flight procedures that will be required when the airport re-opens. These options will now be subject to a full public consultation in 2023.

Following the consultation, RSP will be able to submit an airspace procedures proposal to the CAA for consideration, with a decision expected during the course of 2024.

How will you minimise the impact of aircraft noise over residential communities?

Manston Airport is planning to introduce operational procedures, in the form of a noise preferential runway system, to minimise the impact on our neighbours in Ramsgate.  This means that, when weather conditions are favourable and traffic movements allow, aircraft will depart to, and land from, the west; taking-off or landing with a slight tailwind, approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. Historic meteorological data suggests that aircraft will be able to take-off in a westerly direction approximately 80-85% of the time. Aircraft will sometimes need to land from the east, over Ramsgate, in stronger westerly wind conditions or for other unavoidable safe operational reasons. Aircraft on the approach to land will have lower power settings and therefore will be quieter than aircraft taking-off.

Procedures have to be designed so that they comply with the internationally agreed criteria set down in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) document PANS-OPS 8168 Volume 2 – Construction of Visual and Instrument Flight Procedures (PANS-OPS), which means that there will be a number of constraints on the design procedure.

A Standard Instrument Departure (SID) describes the route that an aircraft must fly on departure from an airport to connect safely with the en-route airspace structure. Regardless of aircraft performance, the start of the SID has to be designed on the assumption that aircraft reach a height of 16 feet (ft) (5 metres (m)) at the Departure End of the Runway (DER). Although the exact position of the Runway DER will not be established until later in the development of the airport, it is assumed presently that DER is the far end of the Runway tarmac from where the aircraft would start its take-off.  At this point, the procedure will be designed to a minimum climb gradient, which all aircraft operating from the airport would be able to achieve.  We have assumed a worst-case climb scenario, gradient of 6% (3.4°).  All heights referenced on the ACP submission documents relate to this climb 6% (3.4°).

In reality, the majority of aircraft will be higher than 16 ft by the end of the runway and, will be able to climb at a greater gradient than 6% (3.4°). Generally, aircraft will be airborne approximately half to two-thirds of the way down the runway and will already be at a height of 300-400 ft (90-120 m) as they pass the far end of the runway tarmac.  In addition, aircraft should be able to achieve a climb gradient of at least 10% (5.7°).  This means that aircraft would already be approximately 800 ft (245 m), or above, as they reach the western edge of the town, if taking-off to the east, and will be approximately 1800 ft (550 m) or above as they cross the harbour area.

An Instrument Approach Procedure (IAP) is the procedure an aircraft follows in the final stage of flight as an aircraft arrives at the airport to land, detailing the route and descent profile that an aircraft must follow to safely avoid ground obstacles in the final, critical stages of flight; a safe approach to land at the designated runway. From approximately 8-10 miles from landing, only minor adjustments to the aircraft’s direction can be made. The maximum permitted descent angle for both RNAV (satellite-based guidance) and ILS (conventional ground-based guidance) approaches for the aircraft that will be operating at Manston Airport is 3°. Aircraft flying an approach procedure from the east to land at the airport will cross the coast at approximately 900 ft (275 m) and will continue to descend at a rate of 175 ft (55 m) per kilometre along the approach path.

Night flights

Will Manston operate night flights?

Manston will not operate any scheduled services overnight.

Requirement 21 (21) of the DCO specifies thatno aircraft is to take-off or be scheduled to land between the hours of 23:00 and 06:00.”

Further, it specifies that:

    • no passenger air transport departures can take place between the hours of 09:00 and 11:30
    • only one passenger air transport departure between the hours of 11:30 and 11:44
    • only one passenger air transport departure between the hours of 11:45 and 12:00.
    • only one scheduled passenger air transport arrival between the hours of 07:00 and 08:00
    • no passenger air transport departures between the hours of 20:00 and 21:00
    • only one passenger air transport arrival between the hours of 16:00 and 17:00
    • only two passenger air transport departures between the hours of 1800 and 19:00
    • and only one passenger air transport departure between the hours of 19:00 and 20:00

These restrictions, which RSP agreed to when consulted by the Government and was pleased to see confirmed, mean that it can operate the airport with minimal impact on local communities in Thanet and East Kent.

Please note, if an aircraft requires the runway in an emergency, or arrives unexpectedly early due to tailwinds, we need to be able to let them land and will be permitted to do so.