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NEWS Last modified on March 20, 2014

Manston Airport holding consultation over possible closure

Manston Airport in Kent is holding a consultation over the possible closure of the struggling airport.

The 144 staff at the loss-making one-runway gateway, capable of handling one million passengers, have been given details about the 45-day consultation.

Ann Gloag, who co-founded the Stagecoach Group, bought it for £1 in October last year.

A statement on the airport’s website, says: “Today we advised our staff that Manston Airport will be entering a period of consultation over the possible closure of the airport.

“We plan to continue to operate as normal during the period of consultation. Please contact your airline or tour operator over your specific planned flight arrangements.”

Dutch airline KLM started running two morning flights from Manston, at the beginning of April 2013.

In July of the same year, the airport also revealed a 40-year vision, in which it outlined ambitious targets of handling five million passengers a year and 400,000 tonnes of freight between 2015 and 2025.

But expansion and investment have failed to materialise and discussions with low-cost carrier Ryanair about bringing in new routes have never taken off.

The owners were also reportedly holding out hopes of pursuing opportunities with cargo flights, but this has also never happened.

A spokesman for Lydd Airport at nearby Romney Marsh, Kent expressed surprise at the announcement, but gave reassurances their own expansion is on track.

“Of course the business model at Manston is very different to our own at Lydd and we remain very confident that our investment plans here will create a successful, modern regional airport capable of providing high quality air travel services to a wide catchment area in Kent, East Sussex and beyond,” the spokesman says.

Lydd Airport itself has been granted planning permission for a runway extension and a new terminal building, part of a redevelopment project costing more than £25 million, with construction work on the runway is expected to start later in the year.

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