Air, Freight News

Report deals blow to Manston reopening prospects

[ October 5, 2016   //   ]

A Thanet Council-commissioned report has poured cold water on plans by US hedge fund RiverOak Investments to reopen the closed Manston Airport as a mainly cargo hub.

Aviation industry experts, AviaSolutions said that the operation was unlikely to be financially viable, even under a the most favourable conditions.

The study formed part of the evidence for Thanet District Council’s Local Plan, which could end Manston’s status as reserved for aviation use only.

Manston airport was closed by owner Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag in 2014, having been bought for £1, to the dismay of the air cargo industry which used the airport as an alternative to other London area airports such as Stansted, particularly for perishables from Kenya.

Since closure, RiverOak Investments drew up plans to reopen Manston as a freight airport and made a pre-application inquiry to planning inspectors for a Development Consent Order. However, the current majority owner of the site, Stone Hill Park, favour redevelopment for housing and non-aviation uses.

However, RiverOak said it would continue with its plans for Manston adding that AviaSolutions’ evidence on freight prospects was “extremely thin”,  and ignored other studies which showed that air freight traffic in the UK is severely constrained by a lack of runway capacity. It would continue to pursue a Development Consent Order, it said.

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