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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2007, 18:37 GMT
Cost of failed flights defended
Planes at Kent International Airport
The flights had been due to begin from Manston in May
Nearly 300,000 of expenditure on a failed bid to operate passenger flights between Kent and America has been defended by the county council.

The figure came to light at a scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday.

Councillor Mike Eddy, leader of the Labour group on the council, asked what "meaningful benefits were likely to accrue" from the expenditure.

Council leader Councillor Paul Carter said the profile of Kent had been raised in the US state of Virginia.

The weekly transatlantic flights, announced last September, were meant to be between Kent International Airport, at Manston, and Norfolk International Airport in Virginia.

But the Cosmos Holidays packages were scrapped in February, three months before they were due to begin, after only 10% of available tickets were sold.

Feasibility studies

Full risk assessments on the potential of the flights had been carried out, Mr Carter insisted.

"The expectation from the experts including Cosmos was that we should have been up to about 20 to 30% of ticket sales by the end of January.

"We extended that period to the end of February... [but] we were seriously rocked by the exchange rate in America."

Mr Carter said the council's original investment of 150,000 had been added to by subsequent feasibility studies.

He added that he hoped the promotion of the flights in Virginia might still encourage Americans to visit Kent via another route.

But Mr Eddy said: "I just think it is very interesting that we were never actually given the original figure [289,559] in the first place."


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