KLM will begin flying from Manston Airport in Kent next April, operating twice daily services to Amsterdam Schiphol.


The launch from Manston is something of a surprise as the loss-making airport is up for sale, has little traffic and previous scheduled services have been pulled.


Airport owner Infratil, the New Zealand-based infrastructure investment firm, reported a £22 million write-down in the value of its two UK airports, Manston and Glasgow Prestwick, this week.


KLM will commence the services on April 2, using an 80-seat Fokker 70 aircraft. Tickets go on sale today.


Manston will be the carrier’s 17th UK departure airport. Air France-KLM UK general manager Henri Hourcade said: “UK demand for convenient schedules to long-haul destinations continues to grow.


“KLM offers more choice to holidaymakers by connecting the UK regions to worldwide destinations.”


Manston Airport chief executive Charles Buchanan said: “The new services will be a real benefit to Kent residents. Passengers will be able to arrive at Manston, park adjacent to the terminal building and be on the flight to Amsterdam within minutes.”


Manston, also known as Kent International Airport, has a chequered history for scheduled flights. Flybe ceased operating daily services from Manston to Edinburgh, Belfast and Manchester in March this year.


The last carrier to base itself at Manston, Irish airline EUjet, ceased flying in 2005 – when Manston also went into liquidation before being bought by Infratil.


Spanish charter carrier Futura Airlines and tour operator Seguro Travel, which also traded as Kent Escapes, operated from Manston until both ceased trading in September 2008.


At present the airport offers a weekly service to Jersey from May to September and a handful of summer charter flights.


The KLM services to Schiphol are scheduled to depart Manston at 6:35am and 10:40am and return from Schiphol at 10:10am and 8:50pm.