Manston airport in Kent should be used to ease congestion at Heathrow and Gatwick, according to a submission to the Airports Commission.
Manston, near Ramsgate, could be a “reliever airport” when the main London airports are busy.
It could handle 10 million passengers a year by 2033 – and up to 16 million passengers by 2050 – by taking low-cost traffic from the region’s congested airports and providing a maintenance repair and overhaul service for the southeast.
The airport also wants lower Air Passenger Duty rates for regional airports.
Chief executive Charles Buchanan said: “There’s been much discussion about the construction of new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, and plans for a four runway hub airport on the Isle of Grain or in the Thames estuary.
“One of the key challenges facing the commission is how they tackle the issue of deliverability, and it is therefore vital that the potential of the smaller regional airports in the south east of England is given serious consideration.
“Most people acknowledge that no new runways will be delivered within 10 or 15 years, if not longer,” he told Kent Business.
“The real danger is that the competitiveness of the South East and London will be compromised, so it is essential that in the interim we make the best use of those runways and airports that have already been built. Manston is available for growth now.”
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