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Probe finds council went ahead with failed flights plan despite warnings

The Kent Messenger Group has revealed how Kent County Council ignored its own consultants’ advice over its decision to support plans for weekly direct flights to Virginia, USA, from Kent International Airport.

The council lost almost £300,000 of public money invested in the project after only 800 tickets of the 10,000 available were sold for the weekly charter service before it pulled the plug on the plan in February.

But after submitting a Freedom of Information request to the council, KMG political editor Paul Francis discovered that the council had previously pressed ahead with plans despite missing key deadlines that consultants said were vital in determining whether the scheme would succeed.

Documents released to KMG showed that consultants Freudmann Tipple, who were commissioned to produce a feasibility study, advised KCC that if the flights were to have any chance of success, tickets had to go on sale at least a year before the launch.

But a series of delays meant tickets only went on sale seven months before it was due to get under way and despite the warning being repeated, KCC pressed ahead with the venture.

When questioned by KMG, the council defended its decision to push ahead with the flights plan, saying that it had consulted with other stakeholders at every stage. It added that Cosmos had been “entirely happy” with the timescale.