Local MPs are asking for “practical support” (ie. government funds) to keep Manston open
The government has been urged to step in over the threatened closure of Manston Airport, after an offer from an unnamed buyer was withdrawn. Up to 150 mostly part-time jobs were placed at risk last month when the airport revealed it was in talks over a possible closure. Kent MP Sir Roger Gale told the Commons it was a significant blow. Mr Gale said Manston was both a search and rescue facility and a location capable of taking diverted aircraft. The Leader of the Commons, Andrew Lansley, has pledged to raise the issue with Transport ministers. He said: “I’m sure the House [of Commons] will completely understand and endorse indeed, his view of the importance of regional airports, in this instance Manston.” Mr Gale and South Thanet MP Laura Sandys met business minister Michael Fallon. The two Kent MPs issued a joint statement saying: “If the future of the airport can be secured under new ownership we believe that very considerable practical support will be forthcoming from both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the DfT. …Added to the backing of Kent County Council and Thanet District Council this adds up to a considerable force for success.”
3 April 2014 (BBC)
Government help sought as Manston Airport faces closure
3 April 2014 (BBC)
The government has been urged to step in over the threatened closure of Manston Airport after an offer from an unnamed buyer was withdrawn.
Up to 150 mostly part-time jobs were placed at risk last month when the airport revealed it was in talks over a possible closure.
Kent MP Sir Roger Gale told the Commons it was a significant blow.
The Leader of the Commons, Andrew Lansley, has pledged to raise the issue with Transport ministers.
Mr Gale, Conservative MP for Thanet North, said Manston was both a search and rescue facility and a location capable of taking diverted aircraft.
He revealed that a jet destined for Heathrow earlier this week had apparently run short of fuel and been diverted to Manston.
Mr Gales said he still hoped a buyer could be found for the airport.
Mr Lansley said: “I’m sure the house will completely understand and endorse indeed, his view of the importance of regional airports, in this instance Manston.”
He said the Department of Transport was well aware of the issue and would be continuing to talk to Mr Gale and the airport’s owners.
Later, Mr Gale and South Thanet MP Laura Sandys met business minister Michael Fallon.
The two Kent MPs issued a joint statement which said: “If the future of the airport can be secured under new ownership we believe that very considerable practical support will be forthcoming from both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department of Transport.
“Added to the backing of Kent County Council and Thanet District Council this adds up to a considerable force for success.”
Mr Gale added: “It is clear that there is a considerable government desire to see Manston continue as an operating airport in the national interest.”
In October, co-founder of the Stagecoach Group Ann Gloag bought Manston for £1 from the New Zealand company Infratil.
Since then it is understood the airport has been losing about £10,000 a day.
Dutch airline KLM has already announced it will suspend its Cityhopper flights between the airport and Amsterdam from 10 April.
In other developments on Thursday, the Unite union said airport workers had presented business plans to managers that could help ensure the airport’s viability.
Unite said it had also asked the owners to extend the 45-day consultation, which is due to end on 11 May, so all options could be explored.
BA plane diverted to Manston due to fog at Heathrow,
MPs Sir Roger Gale and Laura Sandys meet business minister Michael Fallon in the House of Commons in ongoing battle to save Manston Airport
Business minister Michael Fallon has agreed to “throw his weight” behind the Manston Working Group to save the airport.
This was announced in a joint statement by Thanet MPs Sir Roger Gale and Laura Sandys following a meeting this afternoon with the Minister of State for Business at the Department for BIS.
Meanwhile Sir Roger raised the issue in the House of Commons addressing its Leader Andrew Lansley MP.
Business minister Michael Fallon with Thanet MPs Sir Roger Gale and Laura Sandys at the House of Commons.
Mr Lansley’s response gave an assurance that politicians in the Department of Transport attached “undiminished” importance to regional airports.
Following a “most useful and productive” meeting with Mr Fallon, Sir Roger and Ms Sandys stated: “The Minister of State has agreed to throw his weight behind the Manston Working Group, and if the future of the airport can be secured under new ownership we believe that very considerable practical support will be forthcoming from both BIS and the Department of Transport.
“Added to the backing of Kent County Council and Thanet District Council this adds up to a considerable force for success.
“The Minister has also undertaken to examine two specific and significant suggestions that we have put to him.
“Following from the response made by the Leader of the House in the Commons earlier today, it is clear that there is a considerable Government desire to see Manston continue as an operating airport in the national interest.”
This is welcome news for the thousands of Manston Airport supporters who are continuing to battle for its salvation in the wake of yesterday’s blow with news that the potential airport ‘buyer’ had withdrawn their offer.
Earlier today in parliament, Sir Roger put the following question to the Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley MP.
Crowds packed into Acol Village Hall at the public meeting on the future of Manston Airport.
Sir Roger asked: “My Right Honourable Friend will be aware that Manston Airport in my constituency is threatened with closure after less than four months of a promised two years under its present ownership. Manston is a planned search and rescue facility, and a major diversion field and only this week a jet destined for Heathrow and running short of fuel had to be diverted to Manston.
“I am still hopeful that, with goodwill, it may be possible to secure a buyer prepared to keep the airport open. If Manston does close I shall seek to raise the background to the matter in an adjournment debate.”
The MP asked if Mr Lansley would “seek to ensure that the Government gives consideration as to how the predatory disposal of national assets with security implications may be averted?”
The leader replied: “I am sure the House will completely understand and indeed endorse my honourable friend’s view of the importance of regional airports – in this instance Manston – in his constituency and in other neighbouring constituencies across Kent, and Thanet in particular.
“As he knows, my honourable friends at the Department for Transport are well aware of the issue, and in addition to what he said about the desirability of a debate in the House, I know that they will want to keep in touch with him and with the owners and operators out of Manston airport, recognising all the while that it is a commercial matter, but that the importance they attach to regional airports is undiminished.
Public support for Manston Airport continues to grow, with feeling running high. In 12 days an online petition for the airport has gained more than 13,500 signatures while the Facebook closed group Save Manston Airport has more than 12,100 members.
Earlier news about Manston:
Consortium withdraws offer for threatened Manston Airport
April 2, 2014
The consortium that had been interested in taking over Manston Airport has withdrawn its offer and pulled the plug on the deal. Thanet North MP Roger Gale had been involved in trying to broker a deal between owner Ann Gloag and the prospective buyer, but it is not known why the potential deal has not worked out. The identity of the would-be buyer has not been revealed. The business has been damaged by the threat of closure. Roger Gale said: “That offer has been withdrawn for legal reasons and whether a further offer will be made I don’t know.” There are apparently still hopes that two other people have shown an interest in the site, to keep it running as an airport. The 45-day consultation with staff over possible closure will continue. Click here to view full story…
Buyer in contact with Sir Roger Gale MP as Manston airport in consultation over closure
24.3.2014 (Kent Online)
Interest has been shown by a buyer – backed by a consortium – to take over the running of Manston airport. North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, a committed supporter of Manston, has outlined the latest moves to save the airport. It follows the bombshell announcement to staff last Wednesday that the airport could close following a 45day consultation period – leaving 150 staff without a job. Already more than 11,000 people have signed a petition to keep the airport running. Sir Roger said there had been significant developments since the announcement. He said: “Most significantly, I am in contact with a willing buyer who has, I believe, a consortium with the resources necessary to acquire the airport as a going concern and with a view to operating it as such. He continued: “I am in ongoing discussions with the Leader of Kent County Council, who has clarified his position and confirmed his support for Manston as an operating airfield and his continued support for the fast rail link and proposed Manston Parkway station.”
Manston airport losing £10,000 per day – starts 45 day consultation with staff about closure
March 20, 2014
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. Click here to view full story…
Manston Airport chief executive Charles Buchanan optimistic of future despite Davies Commission setback
The chief executive of Manston Airport says it is “business as usual” as the new owners get to know the site. Charles Buchanan says Scottish businesswoman Ann Gloag is “getting familiar” with the company since taking over in November. Mr Buchanan said: “We have a lot of work going on and the new owners are getting familiar with the business.” “In the meantime we have got our KLM service continuing to operate and cargo services coming in on a regular basis. Earlier this month, Manston was dismissed as a ‘reliever’ airport for the South East region by the Airports Commission. The Commission said while the Manston proposal “presents some potential” it did not address “the large question of London and South East capacity”. Mr Buchanan said: “We are not going to have a four-runway hub airport on the Isle of Thanet but we are going to play an important and increasing role within satisfying demand for air travel and cargo within the local area and the regional context. ’Manston is not a stopgap. It is an integral part of the solution.’
Manston owner Ann Gloag brings in Alastair Welch to work with Charles Buchanan to try and turn it round
December 14, 2013
Back in July, in a surprise move, Southend’s managing director Alastair Welch, who led the airport since before the Stobart Group bought it for £21 million in 2008, left at the end of July. Now failed Manston airport, recently bought by Ann Gloag for £1, has taken Alastair Welch on to work with Charles Buchanan to try and breath some life back into it. Ms Gloag said: “As the new owner of Manston Airport, I am ready to work on investigating opportunities for growth at Manston. I have over 30 years experience in the transport industry and will use that expertise as best as I can to optimise both freight and passenger growth at Manston.” Mr Welch worked for BAA at Heathrow and Stansted before Southend. He said “For the airport to thrive and fulfil its potential, it is vital that we create an environment where new partners are attracted to do business at Manston.” However, at present all it has is a twice daily KLM flight to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Click here to view full story…
Infratil sells Manston Airport for £1 (well, £350,000 with adjustments) to Ann Gloag. They paid £17 million for it in 2005.
October 14, 2013
Infratil has agreed to sell Manston Airport to Lothian Shelf (710) Limited, an entity wholly owned by Ann Gloag, a co-founder of Stagecoach with her brother Brian Souter. She is a very rich woman. It was sold for cash consideration of £1, plus an adjustment for working capital variances and cash injected by Infratil between 14 October 2013 and transaction completion (which is expected to be around £350,000). Ann Gloag is an experienced investor who co-founded Stagecoach Group, the UK-listed public transport operator, along with her brother, Brian Souter. Infratil tried to look on the positive side, saying “Infratil Limited is very pleased to have found an acquiror with a vision for Manston Airport’s future development,” and “this sale will result in a more focused portfolio and improve our future cash flow position.” Ann Gloag said she believes “there is real potential for growth that has not been fully captured. Having worked in the transport industry for over 30 years, I believe I am very well placed to help maximise opportunities for both freight and passengers at Manston.” Sale completion will probably be on 29th November. Infratil bought Manston for £17 million in 2005. Click here to view full story…