It was nothing to do with night flights, it was an investment decision (surprise, surprise), Labour feels vindicated and criticises Tories (surprise, surprise).
Airport boss calms jobs fears after Manston is put up for sale
Manston airport boss Charles Buchanan has insisted it will be “business as usual” at the airport, following the shock announcement of its sale last Thursday.
A statement from the airport said it was a decision that had arisen from operator Infratil “refocusing” its investment profile. Trying to allay fears over more than 100 jobs at the airport, airport chief executive Mr Buchanan said:
“It is business as usual in every respect. The business will carry on as it has done and will continue to do so. We would like to reassure all our customers that flights will not be affected. If you have booked a trip with CI Travel Group or Newmarket Holidays, you have absolutely no need to worry as all flights to Jersey, Croatia, Italy and Portugal will be operating as normal. I would also like to stress that jobs are not under threat and we are very grateful to our staff for their support during this time.”
Mr Buchanan denied the proposed sale of the airport had anything to do with the night flights consultation which finished the week before:
“It was a decision made by Infratil shareholders and they decided what was best for them. Their investment strategy was no longer in the best interests of the airport and we are now seeking an investor whose strategy matches the needs of airport.”
He added that the night flight policy was still important for the future of the airport and attracting new investors:
“The position, which I have stated all the way though, is that for this airport to be successful it needs to operate from a competitive position.”
Leader of Thanet council Clive Hart however said he felt that the proposed sale put question marks over the issue of night flights:
“This bolsters my decision to hold a cheaper, in house consultation on night flights. We will consider the issue as we did before, but on the other side it seems that all is not the same. A new owner might not want night flights.”
Mr Hart denied suggestions that Labour’s anti night-flight stance in its election manifesto had any bearing on Infratil’s decision to sell:
“From my discussions with Charles Buchanan, it seems that the delay and prevarication of the previous Conservative administration had a far more detrimental effect than our stance.”
Management consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has been appointed as advisers to assist in the sale of Manston. Mr Buchanan added:
“We are excited about the opportunity that the sale offers us and are looking forward to working with new investors.”
Thanet Times 14th Mar 2012