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Manston closure: press coverage and video clips

Budget Day 2014 – a good day to bury bad news.

Ann Gloag’s timing means that the clock stops ticking for Manston as an airport on 10th May


Manston

Manston’s website:

Manston’s official press statement:

“Following a meeting with staff at Manston Airport in Kent today, Wednesday 19th March, we can confirm we have commenced a process of consultation over the possible orderly closure of the airport. No further comment will be made until the consultation period with staff has been concluded.”


BBC South East Today

Manston Reaction – Wednesday 19th March 2014

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South Thanet MP Laura Sandys

Said she will be fighting to keep the airport alive, following news of its possible closure. Her statement follows the announcement that staff were called to a meeting this morning where it was announced a 45 day consultation would take place with them. Ms Sandys said:

“This is a great shock to the area and very concerning for the 150 staff. This is a consultation and we now need to ensure that we put a very strong case forward to keep the airport alive. We also need to understand a lot more about what they plan to do with the airport if it was to close.

My thoughts are with the staff who are entering a really unsure period and I know that I and Roger are happy to meet any of the staff at our surgeries. We will be talking to the Minister as soon as possible to ensure that there is ministerial input into this consultation as soon as possible.”

IoT Gazette 19 Mar 2014


An unnamed Manston employee

Manston airport closure staff ‘consultation’

“We were told this morning, it came as a huge shock. We knew there was going to be some kind of announcement but we thought it would be positive. They said they had been trying to get Ryanair here but the deal had fallen through.

It’s a very sad day for everyone here, we’re devastated. It’s not just a job, once you work at an airport you don’t want to work anywhere else. We have been told that after 45 days it will be closing but up until then it is business as usual but it’s hard to put your heart into it at the moment.”

IoT Gazette 19th Mar 2014


KLM

KLM says it will wait until the employee consultation at Manston Airport is complete before issuing a formal statement. The Dutch airline, which runs a twice-daily flight from Manston to Amsterdam, has operated out of the airport since April last year. A spokesperson for KLM said:

“We have no statement at the moment – we are going to wait for the consultation to take place as the situation is currently not in our hands.”

Customers are still able to book flights from Manston to Amsterdam via the KLM website.

IoT Gazette 19th Mar 2014


Clive Hart

Thanet District Council leader Cllr Clive Hart said:

“This is potentially a devastating blow to the local economy with the potential loss of direct and indirect employment in Thanet. The council has been clear that it has supported the future development of the airport.

We have worked with operators to ensure that the economic benefits to the district could be maximised including the council’s direct port of entry service and therefore this is very disappointing news.”

Kent Online, 19th Mar 2014


Bob Bayford

Cllr Bob Bayford, opposition Conservative leader on Thanet council, said:

“I feel very disappointed. I cannot help feeling that given there is so much pressure on the south east for more runways that it could have had a future. It is a pretty short period in which the new owners have come to the conclusion that it does not have a future.”

Kent Online, 19th Mar 2014


The Guardian

Manston airport closure plans put scores of jobs at risk

Staff at Kent airport told 45-day consultation period initiated following daily losses of £10,000 under new owner. Up to 150 jobs have been placed under threat following the announcement that a regional airport could close.

The mostly part-time staff at Manston airport in Kent were told that a 45-day consultation period had begun over its possible closure. It is understood the airport has been suffering losses of £10,000 a day under its new owner, making its long-term future unsustainable. An airport spokesman said:

“Following a meeting with staff at Manston airport in Kent today, Wednesday March 19, we can confirm we have commenced a process of consultation over the possible orderly closure of the airport. No further comment will be made until the consultation period with staff has been concluded.”

Scottish businesswoman Ann Gloag, who co-founded the Stagecoach Group, bought Manston airport for £1 last year. She drafted in a team of experts, including Alastair Welch, to help revive its fortunes and various options were explored. These included holding discussions with low-cost airline Ryanair about possibly bringing in new routes to Manston.

But the plans were hit late last year when Ryanair issued its second profits warning in as many months, as it warned it would be hammered by downward pressure on fares. The new owners at Manston had also held out hopes of pursuing opportunities with cargo flights, but they also failed to materialise. The airport will continue to run as normal during the consultation period.

The Guardian 19th Mar 2014


Paul Francis

Grounded: is it the end for Manston airport?

When Manston Airport was sold for £1 last year, new owner Ann Cloag was optimistic about its prospects. In a statement issued at the time, she said:

“Whilst this is a loss making airport, I hope that with the co-operation of our neighbours and the wider community of Kent, the airport partners and staff, we can capitalise on the opportunities available to give Kent the best chance possible of having a successful and vibrant airport.”

Just three months on comes an announcement that the airport is consulting on closure.

It is undeniably a big shock and appeared to come out of nowhere. Certainly, neither KCC or Thanet appeared to have had any prior notice. The 150 staff affected were told at a meeting this morning and were understandably dismayed. Thanet has an unenviable reputation as an economic blackspot and jobs are hard to come by.

Various factors contributed to the decision.

The most significant was that talks with Ryanair owner Michael O’Leary about bringing some routes to Manston had come to an end after the operator signalled it had its own financial difficulties. No airport can be sustained on a long-term basis without using its capacity and it is understood that even with the presence of KLM and regular flights to Schipol, it was haemorrhaging money on a daily basis. There would have been no room for sentiment by the consultants commissioned to investigate whether it had a future.

Add in the uncertainty about what role Manston might have had in the aftermath of the Davies Commission and the ongoing issue about the lack of good road connections and its peninsula location and Manston has been battling the odds for a long time.

And it is worth noting that Manston has also had to compete against the increasingly successful Southend Airport, which has become one of the fastest-growing airports in the UK.

This is not the first time Manston has, in its chequered history, faced the threat of closure. But you sense that this time, it is highly unlikely to survive. Given the hard-headed conclusions of the turnaround team brought in to assess its prospects, it is almost inconceivable that someone else could come in to give it a go.

The fact that the airport is consulting staff over closure – rather than putting it on the market – tells its own story. The airport insists that it is not ruling out that possibility but there is already speculation that developers are circling with an interest in developing it for houses, rather than for planes.

This time, it does feel like it is the end for Manston – at least as an airport.

Kent Online’s political editor Paul Francis, 19th Mar 2014

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25 comments

  1. Brian Foreman

    It will be sad to see Manston airport close, and a loss of jobs. What finished Manston to start with was the loss of concord, as Manston was a prime alternate landing strip due to the length of the runway.. What should be looked at to keep it is looking to see if it would be viable to move cargo flights out of Heathrow and Gatwick. place them into Manston, there is enough land to put storage and container facilities in place, it would also allow for commercial flights with klm to continue. that would bring jobs into the area and retain the airport infrastructure.. if you go up north railways are still in use as well as road to transport freight, so look at adding a railway line to Manston. there must be a point where this could link to the line through minster.. Those people mentioning housing and putting people to work is true but that only last until the houses are built, what it does not do is bring sustainable employment opportunities and that is one thing the whole of Thanet needs.

  2. BrianPlease stop blaming us the nimbys for the possible closure of Manston airport it is not our fault the airlines didn’t want to come here, & if Manston were allowed night flights all the other airports would have wanted the same so Manston would be back to sqaure one again, Charles Buchanan was always on about a level playing field with other airports but he wanted much more he wanted QC4 @ night there are only a couple of airports in the uk that allowed QC4 & they were limited to a few a year, southend has a night flying policy but they are only allowed QC2, regardless of were you live you should have the right to 8 hours sleep, when i moved here 24 yrs ago i made sure i wasn’t on the flight path then about 5 yrs later because the council found out the noise monitors were not working & asked the airport to sort them out which they did then they changed the flight path over my house, not to bad during the day but not @ night too, it works both ways you know you don’t want to go to London airports, the M25 car park what makes you think Londoner’s would want to come here with 2 lanes M2 & 2 lanes Thanet way, i’ts caos in the summer coming down the M2 stop start i’ts worse than the m25, still @ the end of the day they talk about Southend airport how successful it is & how right you are but the Stobart group have invested more than 125 million into their airport & look how well they are doing, maybe had the owners of Manston done the same maybe it could have been successful but then probably not it’s a bit of a gamble really.

  3. Maurice Byford

    You can’t say we didn’t try to tell ’em!

  4. Julian Graham

    I still cannot understand why these people simply don’t understand the basic fact of the matter. Manston was not an airport it was a military airfield so it’s location didn’t matter a jot but for a successful airport it does matter. Manston is just in the wrong place to make it a viable passenger airport.This should be seen as an opportunity to move the area into a new direction and these people need to get their blinkers off and think about doing something else. With the wind farms just of shore, the solar array just down the road, why can’t the area and Thanet in general be developed in the green hub and envioremental centre of excellence of the UK? The area is huge so why can we try to bring to the area manufacturing assosiated with this sector? There is now a much better road network and indeed a runway that could be used when needed to fly goods and materials in and out, so some of the airport activity could perhaps be retained so as not to close it down completly. I know that they are not to everyone’s liking but what about trying to bring back to the UK wind turbine manufacturing or even try to bring an electric car manufacturer to the site?So come on politicians, councillors and Manston owners, get your blinkers off and start to think outside the box, the opportunity is here and now so grab it and stop wasting any more time and money and do something that will bring long term employment and prosperity to Thanet.

  5. Adrian Mason

    Come on you local politicians – stop trying to ressurect a dead horse, it’s time to think about other uses for the old airfield land, extending the Pfizer enterprise zone to cover Manston is a possibility, get over the loss and let’s start building for the future…

  6. We have just had three days of training flights crossing our town for hours on end bringing in nothing to out town but pollution and noise all the time that Manston is there some grasping business man will want to destroy our quality of life with night flying mostly bringing in produce that takes trade from our hard pressed farmers since it was taken into the private sector it has been like a thorn in the backside of the residents in this densely populated area the sooner we have factories retail outlets and a huge leisure center to pull in people from miles away the better there could be thousands of jobs plus keep the small aircraft usage, Ronald Blay.

  7. Dennis Franklin

    I don’t trust them! This may be a ruse to blackmail us into accepting night flights, especially as Ryanair were involved in talks! Dennis Franklin

  8. Mike Lockwood

    If you care to look closely at the map you will note that Lydd Airport is far better situated to serve as a ‘Regional Airport’ with an absolute minimum spend upon infrastructure. Lydd Airport stands within an area of little human habitation therefore, little disturbance to humans from aircraft and other noise. But, more importantly it lies within 15 miles of junction 10 of the M20 and therefore also within 20 miles of Ashford International Railway Station complete with its high speed links to London and the continent. Hence, no requirement to build a railway station or develop any connections to Manston for high speed trains. The only consideration may be, and that would come over time, is to possibly upgrade the A259 and A2070 connecting Lydd to J10 of the M20. If Manston were to be developed it is not just the railway infrastructure to consider. The M2 being mainly only 2 lanes each side from the Medway Towns to the Thanet Way is a most inadequate method of reaching beyond the Thanet Way. What would be the cost and timescale of re-developing the M2 into 4 or more lanes each side?? Manston, should be considered for other re-developments more in keeping with tourism. I am sure there are a whole host of suggestions here, these being more positive long term contributors to local employment.. Mike Lockwood

  9. Planes seemed to be screaming over ramsgate every few minutes last weekend……will be glad to see the back of the place as a so called commercial airport. Maybe now we can have some creative thinking about what to do with the site. Or it might be the site has no real value in that there are other places in Thanet in need of investment and these should be a priority.Maybe….ultimately….Thanet is destined to be a place on the end of Kent that mainly caters for pensioners and people on benefits with summer day trippers contributing to the economy for a few months each year. That will be the case unless we get some out of the box thinking about the future….and quickly!

  10. Well we all new this was going to happen some day yes I’m sorry for the workers loseing there jobs but the fact remains that they still do not keep to their flight paths and keep flying over Bishopstone Herne bay are blighting our house prices have allways said who from London ect will drive down to kent to catch a flight the airlines will not take off from London or Gatwick to land at manston to pick up nor will you get long haul flights to come as there would be not enough people to use it sorry workers but the time has come

  11. Well done guys, you’ve got your wish and between you and your kind and TDC you’ve managed to put 150 people out of work – no doubt you couldn’t give a s*it.

  12. DB. GOODBYEE, GOODBYEE, THERE’S A LITTLE TEAR IN MY EYEE, CHEERIO POM POM, CHEERIO POM POM, GOODBYEE.

  13. What’s the point of having a comment page if, when somebody leaves a comment you don’t like, you delete it? Just shows you the mentality of the person that runs this site.

    • Hello Dog I think you’ve had your day.. The quicker Manston changes into something else that will provide much needed employment the better. What about a theme park? You obviously do not live under the flight path and your quality of life and your property is not blighted!!

  14. Sad days for the employed at the airfield.But there are tons of other businesses that could make a go of employing more than a poultry 150 people. It was always a dead donkey trying to get the airport up and running and the majority of people that live locally knew that, but the thought of making loads of bucks from this enterprise was too great a thing to miss by the capitalist bods that would take back handers etc etc.The likes of Mr Gale and his cronies should look to the shorter term rather than long term strategy and get some sensible funding from the coffers to create business and jobs in place of a noisy polluted airport that 99% of people living in the town and surrounding areas don`t want.

  15. Knob!

  16. Richard J Peck.

    Richard Peck.I do hope this is not a thinly diguised ploy to frighten our council i to agreeing to the blight of night flights. A viable airport should neither need or want them

  17. Kent Resident

    It was inevitable that someday someone would come along and pull the plug out of this lifeless body. It has been in a coma for the past two or three decades now and just scraping by with the commercial flights. The passenger flights have been a history of failure after failure because nobody wants to come to this inaccessible place on the edge of the channel. It’s so much easier for most of Kent and the South-East to fly direct to their destinations from the main airports nearer to London.It is a shame that up to 150, mainly part-time jobs may be lost there but if the land is used for what this Government wants, more housing in the South East, then it is prime land for the taking and making many more jobs than would be lost. Mrs Gloag is not stupid, her 1.00 purchase and insight can make her a wealthy woman over again. The MP’s don’t like it as they cannot see as far as the end of their noses. But is all this noise not a ruse to get the Council to relax the Night time flying regulations or make Thanet residents feel sorry they may lose the airport completely ? If the airport was to close because of the 10,000 a day losses then why hold a 45 day consultation. That is nearly another half million ‘s lost. Why not close up instantly ! I think she is weighing up her options.

  18. equal rights

    It is a sad day for the employees.As a profitable concern it was doomed to end in tears but surely something could be done to rejuvenate the land.Why don’t we all do something along the lines of getting the community to buy the land and holding events etc to make it viable plus it makes sure that any future decisions regarding the site will be down to the discretion of the community. I would rather that, then having a housing estate built there.

  19. Thanks for your input chaps – hope you’re feeling guilty – how many out of work is it? 150?

  20. I’m looking forward to the waste incinerator going in

  21. Every Dogabout 9 hours ago Well done guys, you’ve got your wish and between you and your kind and TDC you’ve managed to put 150 people out of work – no doubt you couldn’t give a s*it.Well that’s a nice comment my Freind let’s put you right you have lost your job due to the FactThe airport is in the wrong place Also that the planes don’t keep to where they should be in the sky your bosses don’t do anything to stop them if they say any thing they could have lost the airline as I said before sorry u lost your job but don’t blame us blame them

  22. It must be that poor OLD Roger Gale has lost his marbles, his comment that Manston is a major diversion field for London airports and we need to keep the search and rescue facilities there, someone should remind him that when Manston was first sold 20 something years ago Manstons status as a diversion field was withdrawn and the search and rescue was relocated elsewhere, and to think these guys run old England.

  23. Mike Lockwood

    It was with dismay, disapointment and disgust that I received the news of Roger Gales meddling in the affairs of Manston Airport.When will he do what he was elected for and is paid for. That is to listen to the entire views of his constituency the majority of which do not want an airport at Manston?This is a sure fire vote loser for him and the Tory Party and I urge all who oppose the airport as such to do as I will and vote elsewhere at every opportunity.

  24. Thanet Business Woman

    How dare Roger Gale just presume that Ann Gloag wants to sell what is essentially a privately owned business. I would be incensed if it was my particular business he was poking his nose in. I suppose he wants the saving of Manston as an airport as his Swansong. How dare he also comment that no-one lives under the flight path in either direction. That is complete nonsense. He should be in our house in the middle of the night when a cargo flight takes off in a westerly direction! Furthermore, if any of the airlines that have used the airport to date stuck to their correct ‘pathways in the sky’ (Manston complaints own words not mine!), particularly on take-off, perhaps some of us might have had a little more sympathy with a potential closure. Roger Gale banging on about the same old thing over and over again is beginning to sound like a broken record and I am more convinced than ever that he is totally out of touch with reality and the public mood about this particular subject. My husband and I have already made up our minds that we will not be voting for him again, albeit we are life-long Conservative voters.