Originally posted by Alison Wilby, but reposted with her permission. She has also said “Iris Johnston and Sir Roger Gale and Grant Shapps have copies of these emails. Copies will also go to all councillors later today… also sent to Thanet Gazette.”Andy Wilby, ex ATC at Manston was so irritated by the constant rumour about KLM “pulling out” of Manston that he wrote to his colleagues there to ask if they would put the matter straight. These two emails below are from the Managing Director of KLM Cityhopper Boet E.J. Kreiken.
“Dear Mr Wilby
Thank you for reply and kind and realistic words and you can use my response (in full) to put matters straight and in perspective as they really were at the time. Everytime we hear about Manston we feel the lost opportunity for the UK, the Kent region, local employment and our lost venture which did not get the time to materialise with a full summer season. Thank you once more for your professional controlller work guiding our aircraft and crews. The UK has to come to grips soon with her policy for regional airports and these airports (and e.g. amongst others our Klc operations) and airline connections are a vital lifeline for a modern economy and society as yours is. Hope is no strategy unfortunately. I wish, your family well to make ends meet, find new opportunities for emplyoyment and we are convinced that definitively destructing such a runway and location as Manston is in the long run not such a wise decision as understatement in the greater and continuously expanding London area as well as of a relatively booming South East England. Many regional airports now vie for our connections to Europe and the world.Sincerly yours
Boet E. J. Kreiken
MD KLM Cityhopper”
“Dear Mr Wilby
Thank you for mail to our fine colleagues of KLM Cityhopper and they forwarded your request to me.You can understand how frustrated we were earlier this [year] after all our efforts and commercial and operational investments into the KLM/KLM Cityhopper Manston-Amsterdam connection to the world and to continental Europa. The whole sales force of Air France- KLM group was engaged, time, money, focus, campaigns, publications and whatsoever were put into it. As you say in the world
famous English Navy “all cannons out and fire”. We did that commercially and operationally. I still applaud our colleagues for all the work they did at the time to market, distribute and sell this new connection.We did what we promised and delivered accordingly and with our reliable and punctual scheduled operation. The way and the speed in which Manston was closed is and was pretty shocking (not what we expect from a classic Kentish environment and also given the warm support we got from many fine associations and citizens of Kent and its surrounding area’s) and I can assure you we did lose money because of the closure, why: because we had to reroute our already booked loyal passengers again and arranged for same of course , extra costs for KLM. We also had to reroute our network and replanned where to put the assets, we lost weeks as well in this whole process (opportunity losses) and had to write off all the commercial and network investments made in the Manston campaign. Very frustrating for many in our company and just before the summer season!The fact we started Manston and connected it to the great KLM Schiphol hub was a show of proof that we DID put our money where our mouth was. The whole story made up later on that Manston had to close because of KLM is complete nonsense, incorrect and complete reversion of truth. To protect the interest of our passengers and given the formal legal notice and risk stated by Manston Airport and its owners at the time that they would fully close the airport very quickly we had NO other choice to ACT. We are no fools and again we have the interest of our passengers at heart as well as of our company.We were proud to fly on Manston and to start an operation is always pretty costly, risky and complex and the 2014 Manston was fully fixed in the KLM Network/Summer/Winter schedules. The booking window was fully open for a year ahead! Basically by suddenly closing the airport we never really got to the core of the business case in real life market circumstances. This is all I can and want to say.AirFrance-KLM , KLM and KLM Cityhopper showed their true colors as airline entrepreneurs in the Manston-Kent area . We did it and were – at least we felt it that way – stabbed in the back due many local and UK circumstances mixed with those of other private actors completely outside our control and again we had to act accordingly. We run an airline and serve passengers and with all respect do not run airports and or investment fund ventures. You can imagine how we look back at this whole very difficult experience. If we would have known this we would never have started the operation in the first place. We took the risk and due to airport closure we lost .We do not cry over spilled milk anymore now and this chapter is closed. I just write to you to put matters in its REAL perspective and to protect our name, brand and honor of our staff which did so much to start and fly the Manston operation. We are proud to serve and fly our millions of passengers from England, Wales and Scotland all over the world on our KLM Cityhopper and KLM aircraft serving British primary and regional airports. The association between our 2 countries and between KLM and the whole of Britain is very very strong and will remain to be so. Also many airports, their owners, cities and counties in the UK are happy to see the blue birds of KLM/KLM Cityhopper connecting their communities , industries and citizens to the Europe and The World and vice versa. As oldest commercial airline in the world still operating under its own brand name KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (95 years now) we continue to fly over the North Sea to serve United Kingdom whatever it takes!
I wish you well and sincerely yours,
Boet E.J. Kreiken