"The UK demand for all air freight remained flat from 2003 to 2013, furthermore, the UK totals for 2015 (2,299,000 tonnes) and 2016 (2,385,000 tonnes) confirm that pattern has been maintained over at least the last 13 years. The contribution by Manston showed no growth and hovered between 1.2% and 1.5% of all airfreight. It was a minor player in the freight market throughout its operation.
CAA statistics show the split between the quantity by weight of incoming (known as ‘set-down’) and outgoing (‘pick-up’) cargo. It shows there was a highly skewed imbalance in favour of import over export tonnage.
99% of freight was carried by non-UK operators.
92% of freight was set-down
7% was pick-up
This imbalance would have severely affected the efficiency and profitability of carriers. This picture suggests that there was a lack of UK market demand to ‘export’ freight by air from Manston or that other operational factors were having an impact.
In 2013 the airfreight handled at Manston was 29,306 tonnes. Analysis of CAA statistics shows this was carried via 511 dedicated freight aircraft ATMs. On average therefore each ATM accounted for
57.4 tonnes of cargo. On the assumption that there are equal numbers of inbound and outbound ATMs it is possible to derive the average payload of each given the recorded set-down and pick-up tonnages. On this basis the average ‘set-down’ payload was 106.4 tonnes; and the average pick-up payload was a mere 8.5 tonnes. In other words set-down aircraft were arriving heavily laden but, in many cases, departing empty." * report by The Ramsgate Society
What about the planes used to carry Freight
"The freight ‘workhorse’ Boeing 747-400F requires a take-off field length ranging from 9,250 feet to 10,950 feet (depending on range, payload and overall weight). This poses a serious problem for the future of Manston with its runway at 9029 feet in length. While it may be sufficient to land fully laden aircraft it is not capable of handling this market leading freight aircraft at maximum take-off weight. This puts Manston at a considerable commercial disadvantage compared to its competitor airports in the UK. Manston ranks only 11th in terms of the length of runway in the UK, and behind leading
dedicated freighter traffic rivals East Midlands and Stansted. It makes it unattractive to air freight operators. The relatively short runway explains why, historically, there has been very little pick-up tonnage over previous years of operation undermining efficiency and contributing to a lack of any profitability."
The total annual UK weight of cargo carried by dedicated air freighters 715,000 tonnes (at 2016 levels source CAA);
The last point which will put the final nail into this coffin is the cost of reinstating the airport. Various figures have been bandied about but according to Dr. Beau Webber this is around £300M. As an accountant and Financial Adviser for more than 25 years this business model will make the airport noncompetitive and inflexible because this amount will incur repayments of both Capital and Interest costs which landing fees and ancillary business will have to cover before running costs. As an example check out the Channel Tunnel which had similar issues and escaped from its financial dead weight by going bankrupt.