Manston airport, near Ramsgate in Kent is steeped in history, playing a part in two world wars and acting as an emergency spaceport for Nasa's shuttle programme. However continual poor management of the airport left it struggling financially.
|Manston's large runway meant it could accommodate the Airbus A380 and was available to NASA as an emergency landing strip for the Space Shuttle. Photo courtesy of Tim Stubbings / Manston Airport|
Despite being in the south east of England, a lack of advertising and a suspect name (Manston, Kent's International Airport, as opposed to something more conventional like London Manston) caused Manston to slip into obscurity.
However, it clearly had potential. Manston was an important hub for cargo transport as well as boasting daily flights with KLM to Amsterdam, linking Thanet, via Amsterdam to the world. It also sits phenomenally close to HS1, the fastest railway in the UK, which offers an express route from east Kent into central London. Some sort of link up with other forms of transport could have made the airport a convenient alternative for millions of Londoners and helped solve the crisis of air traffic overcrowding over the south east of Britain.
|Manston Airport, Branded Badly|
Then came Ann Gloag, a cut-throat Scottish business tycoon who made her millions through Stagecoach. Many welcomed her intervention when she bought the Airport for £1 promising to turn it around, delivering a profit within two years.
It never happened. Shady meetings with with Thanet District councillors and assurances over housebuilding proved too tempting for Gloag. She announced the airport was to be shut to make way for a "Garden City". Netting Gloag up to £150 million.
Upon news of the shut down, American firm River Oak offered £7 million to buy the Airport and keep it running, Gloag rejected the offer which would have left her in profit and keep open a vital asset for the people of Thanet. This rejection show she clearly had no intention of running the airport, just using the suggestion of turning it around as the pretence for a great £1 land grab.
|Ann Gloag, wants to turn Manston into a housing estate as a legacy for her children and grandchildren, in doing so denying the same thing to hundreds of businesses affected.|
The shut down has destroyed links between Thanet and the wider world and will hurt the local economy. Housing estates are two a penny, airports with the support of the local community in the south east of England are pretty hard to come by.
Please help stop this land grab and asset strip and force Thanet District Council to order a compulsory purchase of the airport.
Click here and sign the petition to Save Manston Airport.