Manston Airport holds consultation over possible closure

Manston Airport
Image caption Manston Airport was bought by Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag in 2013

A Kent airport is holding a consultation over its possible closure, the BBC has learnt.

The 144 staff at loss-making Manston Airport were given details about the 45-day consultation on Wednesday.

The airport was bought by Ann Gloag, who co-founded the Stagecoach Group, for a £1 in October last year.

Leader of Thanet District Council, Clive Hart, described the news as "potentially a devastating blow" to the local economy.

BBC South East business correspondent Mark Norman said: "I understand the business is losing money and may have to close."

Dutch airline KLM started running two morning flights from Manston, with one returning in mid-morning and the other in the evening at the beginning of April 2013.

'Very disappointing news'

In July of the same year, the airport revealed a 40-year vision as part of its submission to the government commission looking at airport expansion in the South East.

Between 2015 and 2025, Manston said it could be handling five million passengers a year and 400,000 tonnes of freight.

Mr Hart said the council had been "clear that it has supported the future development of the airport".

He added: "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."

Unite regional officer Ian McCoulough said he was "seeking clarification from the management" about the airport's future.

He added: "Unite will do everything possible to safeguard the interests of our members in the days and weeks ahead."

A month after she bought the airport, Ms Gloag told the BBC: "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."

Keith Taylor, the Green Party's MEP for the South East the possible closure came "as no surprise" and hoped the announcement would stop the council from trying to develop the airport further.

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