Manston airport losing £10,000 per day – starts 45 day consultation with staff about closure
Up to 150 jobs – mainly part time – have been placed under threat following the announcement that Manston airport could close. Staff have been told there will be a 45 day consultation over the “possible orderly closure of the airport” , and that the airport will close in 45 days. Manston has made losses for years, and is now losing about £10,000 a day under its new owner. It was bought by Ann Gloag for £1 in 2013. Manston says “No further comment will be made until the consultation period with staff has been concluded.” KLM now has two flights per day from Manston, and will comment formally after the consultation period. Manston had been in discussions with Ryanair, to get in flights, but these did not work out when Ryanair issued its 2nd profits warning in as many months. Manston has also failed to attract more cargo flights. The airport will continue to run as normal during the consultation period. The land might be used for housing. In response to questions on this, the airport said it noted that Thanet is developing its Local Plan (for where development – industrial, commercial and residential – can take place across the district) and the airport has engaged with Thanet District Council in this process.
Manston Airport’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.”
Staff at Kent airport told 45-day consultation period initiated following daily losses of £10,000 under new owner
19 March 2014 (Guardian)
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.
Manston airport closure staff ‘consultation’
March 19, 2014
MANSTON Airport could shut after Thanet councillors were informed that consultations are taking place with staff over a possible closure.
Councillors were informed of the move at around 10:30am this morning (Wednesday). Council leader Clive Hart had reportedly met with airport bosses several times in the past few weeks.
Closure of the airport could result in up to 150 job losses.
An airport employee, who asked not to be named, said: “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.”
Transport tycoon Ann Gloag bought Manston Airport for £1 in October last year.
Council leader 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.”
PLANS for homes on part of Manston airport have not been ruled out by its chief executive.
The Isle of Thanet Gazette asked airport boss Charles Buchanan to comment on speculation that Manston would apply for permission for houses on land to the north of the site.
In response a spokesman issued the statement on behalf of Mr Buchanan which said: “We note that Thanet is developing its Local Plan and the airport has engaged with Thanet District Council in this process.”
The Local Plan is Thanet council’s blueprint for where development – industrial, commercial and residential – can take place across the district.
KLM began flights from Manston in April 2013
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.
KLM customer services have told passengers expecting to travel on any flights affected by the potential closure can reschedule or rebook on a serviceflying from another airport.
Sir Roger Gale
NORTH Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale was in the House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions and the Budget announcement when he was paged at 12.45pm on Wednesday with a message from Manston airport owner Ann Gloag.
The message was to inform him of the consultation with staff over the possible airport closure and looming redundancies.
The veteran MP said focus must be kept on Manston airport as a national asset. He said its aviation value in the south east was vital and it holds important status as a major diversion field for craft heading to London that may hit trouble and need to make an emergency landing.
He said: “People forget this is a national facility of strategic importance and has to be considered in a national context.
“There is the whole need for aviation capacity in the south east and I regard this as a national crisis that we are losing business to Charles De Gaulle and Frankfurt airports. This is not something that should be allowed to continue.”
Sir Roger has vowed to talk to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Parliamentary Under Secretary Robert Goodwill about the future for Manston.
He also said that he and Kent County Council leader Paul Carter “need to have a conversation.”
He said: “The first priority is to keep the airport open as a working airfield.
“If this is really not possible, or not desired by the powers that be, then we have to look at alternative uses, a proper plan b which has been thought through and sensibly provides a viable alternative for east Kent.”
The MP said plans for a Thanet parkway station should remain on the table to serve the future Manston Green residents and provide a high speed link for the isle.
Sir Roger said the first task for himself and South Thanet MP Laura Sandys was to help the employees of the airport who are now faced with possible redundancy.
He said: “We will set up an advice surgery, talk to people about their concerns and see what deals they have been offered. People are our priority.”
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.”