Monday, May 05, 2008

When Is A Survey Not A Survey?

When it's a cynical marketing ploy, of course! I'm indebted to regular contributor Millicent for pointing out this RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport 'survey' in yesterday's usually excellent Kent on Sunday. Masquerading under the seemingly objective headline 'Have your say on the future of air travel in Kent', the item begins: 'Kent International Airport is undertaking a major public survey to measure the demand for the airport near Ramsgate.'

So far, so good, as there is indeed very little demand for an airport 1km from one of Britain's loveliest Victorian seaside towns, and the opportunity to let them know seemed irresistible. However, when you go to the online questionnaire you're presented with an interminable puff piece based solely on the words of, er, independent observer Matt Clarke, the airport's boss. The survey itself then invites you to list the airlines and destinations you'd like to see, and all the other wonderful benefits of flying from your doorstep over 40,000 people's rooftops.

Finally, in order to complete the form, it's mandatory to leave your name, address, email and telephone number. As there's no marketing opt-out to choose, one can only assume that the upshot of filling out this 'survey' will be interminable sales calls and endless junk mail tempting you with offers of a week in Majorca!

24 comments:

Peter Checksfield said...

I'm actually in favour of expanding the airport (though I admit that I don't have to put up with them flying over sunny Westbrook where I live). They need to do things properly though, such as add a railway link from Margate, & much faster rail links from London to Thanet. It might even encourage people to visit the town(s).

Eddie said...

I'm in favour of rerouting the flight path from above my house to above yours in Westbrook Peter.

I think you might change your mind then.

Anonymous said...

I just love the sound of airplanes overhead. So, I can't empathise with you. Sorry.

Peter Checksfield said...

It's surprising how quick (most) people can get used to things... When I first moved here (right next to Margate train station) I found the noise unbearable, but now I rarely notice them, though I admit modern trains are quiter than the old slam-door type.

But Thanet can't have things both ways: complain that people rarely visit Thanet but at the same time complain every time someone wants to do something to bring them here. I'm sure there were similar complaints from many when steam ships & railways first came here in the 19th Century, but without them Mrgate & Ramsgate would've remained little more than fishing villages.

I rarely fly anywhere, but when I do I'd sure like to be able to go from Manston instead of Gatwick, Heathrow, Stanstead, Luton...

Anonymous said...

So none of you who fly don't mind driving to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City etc and disturbing the residents in large areas of West Sussex, Surrey, East London and Middlesex? Manston was noisy during a lot of its time as a military airport. Go to Norwich Airport, this will be an honest comparison to what Manston maybe like, not too intrusive at all. Ramsgate is being subjected to noise by training flights that will go away once it is busier.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not the only place in Thanet the planes never fly over is Manston and I can easily walk to the airport - of course I want it to grow

Tony Berloni said...

The nuisance complained of is minimal compared with the economic benifits, I recall your online petiion against Manston and the hand full of signatures.

Anonymous said...

We gave up flying after our last trip to Dublin to meet up with friends flying from Gatwick. Queues to get off the motorway,queues to park, queues to get to the loo, queues to buy a cup of cr*p coffee, queues to go through security, queues, queues, place full of post-A level youngsters off to get drunk somewhere, queues to get on the plane, queues to get anywhere, anything.

Compare with that what we enjoyed when we were able to fly with EUJet, no queues even though plane full, decent coffee, no queues for loo and so on. Home in 5 minutes. As a friend who flew from other airports regularly on business said he actually missed (being ironic)the 'airport experience' -delays, queues, rude officials etc.

Not sure if there were any economic benefits for the area but, heck, we enjoyed our day trip to Edinburgh for our wedding anniversary, our trip to Manchester, etc.

Nethercourt said...

As someone who has to leave the bathroom window open to allow the training flights access I would welcome the return of regular air traffic. At least they usually come in and go again, not again and again and........

Eastcliff Richard said...

I agree that if the planes were actually flying somewhere rather than going round in circles it would be more acceptable. I find the thought that the airport would bring visitors to Thanet, though, pretty absurd.

However I'm struggling to see how an airport for the benefit of a few people in East Kent who want to fly to Majorca can be justified on environmental or economic grounds. EUJet proved it just doesn't work. Which is perhaps why Infratil have their sights set on night freight flights (try saying that after a couple of pints!).

Anonymous said...

I read that the new Mayor of London thinks building an airport in the Thames Estuary is 'a good idea' just when airlines are collapsing one by one at the moment. Having had to collect some visitors from Heathrow anything would be an improvement on that experience. A local airport with a limited number of destinations could work. EUJet was too ambitious from the off rather than start with a limited number of routes that could have worked. We met a number of business men flying to Manchester, Dublin amd Edinburgh who said it was great as it saved them so much time and money -just not enough of them took advantage of what was available.

steve said...

Your house price will go down if you live on or near a flight path to an airport - slightly busy, busy, or very busy. Fact.

No-one will visit the area because of an airport. It will be used for transit. people will get to the perimeter, go in, and f**k off.

More people would have visited to planespot when it was an air-base. If you have an airbase during a war (hot or cold) you might feel its your duty to put up with the noise, take one for Britain. But not for Infratil.

Infratil want to make money. They don't give a fig for the people of thanet, and the sooner people realise that the better. By saying "you don't mind a few flights", or "the odd night flight won't hurt" or " I saved 2 hours by flying from Manston" read up on the history of Stanstead and how that started out. You will wish you put up a bit more of a fight, rather than sold your local environment for a few baggage handlers

Anonymous said...

Surely the airport is a dead duck EUJet failed in booming economic times what hope for the place now airlines are dropping like flies? I have plenty of friends who refuse to fly if they can take the train much more envirnmentally sound and if all they can come up with is freight they are doomed.

Peter Checksfield said...

Steve, the hotels near Stanstead are charging a small fortune & doing a roaring trade. So at least it could revive that part of Thanet...

And so what if some house prices come down? Might give first time buyers a helping hand (& why is it that everyone complains about inflation EXCEPT when it comes to house prices?).

steve said...

peter, why would a first time buyer purchase a house in Ramsgate under a flightpath?

the aiport would have to be uber- busy to warrant our guest houses kicking their 'social' clients out, by which time Manston will have a Hilton, IBIS etc.

Some further insight into your affection for the airport would be appreciated.

steve said...

just clicked on the sidebar manston survey on the kent news website, and got directed to a 2 year old story on the offically dead steve fosset. Nice

Tony said...

ECR you are doing it again, "as there is indeed very little demand for an airport" and "an airport for the benefit of a few people in East Kent" are statements made without any proof at all. Just your own opinion.

Steve, "Your house price will go down if you live on or near a flight path to an airport - slightly busy, busy, or very busy. Fact." I bought a property directly under the flightpath, and the price has risen in line with others in the Thanet area. Fact.
"Infratil want to make money", of course they do, like any other business!

Peter Checksfield said...

I agree Tony. I don't have "proof" either, but I'm guessing any airport expansion would be far more popular than something like The Turner Centre (which I'm also in favour of to some degree).

steve said...

tony, the proof that few people want to use is there for all to see. 2,752 metres of asphalt laying dormant to all but a few cargo drops. If the demand was there, EUJet would still be alive, Ryanair and Easyjet would be fighting over airport space.
And your house has gone up because of inflation, same as everyone elses, and will not increase in line with the rest of the market if flights increase.

Peter Checksfield said...

I believe the failure of EUjet at Manston was more down to poor marketing than anything, as many people from outside the area were unaware of it's existence (in addition to the fact that they were over-adventurous by having too many destinations too soon). But (as I said earlier), it also needs to be easily accessable, which is why we need a rail link direct to Margate or Ramsgate (or failing that a free & frequent bus shuttle service from the stations).

Eastcliff Richard said...

Tony - I have expressed opinions on many things over the past two and a half years... and nine times out of ten they've become fact within a very short space of time. For example I opined that the KCC-subsidised flights to Nowhere, Virginia were, er, going nowhere and that indeed turned out to be the case. They don't call me Psychic Dick for nothing!

Anonymous said...

Couple of minor points being a pedantic person. 1) It's Stansted. 2) I know folk who were interested in the Virginia flights but couldn't get any sense at all out of Cosmos when they rang to enquire so got fed up and booked elsewhere. We enquired for info and nothing turned up for ages by which time we'd lost interest.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry. By the time people have finished arguing about it, air travel will be a thing of the past as fuel will be too expensive and Manston will be under water along with the rest of Thanet.

Anonymous said...

Your house will fall down!!! Erm, I doubt it. Making comparisons to Stansted? Manston will never be of Stansted size, most likely Norwich...much smaller but a steady trickle in. Manston I have always said would be good for freight flights. Most airports don't care for freight but the problem with passengers is they need looking after. A freight orientated airport would fill a niche. I've seen most UK airports having worked in the business and from what I know think that the best way forward for it.