Published: 00:00, 10 April 2014 |
Updated: 10:19, 10 April 2014
There were tears as campaigners waved off the final KLM passenger flight from Manston Airport.
Nearly 50 protestors watched the plane leave at 10.35am on Wednesday, holding banners and wearing t-shirts bearing the words “Keep Calm and Save Manston”.
Dutch airline KLM revealed it will not return to the airport regardless of what happens after the 45-day consultation on its closure.
Many campaigners remain hopeful a deal can be struck to keep the site open, which has been welcoming planes since the First World War.
Members of the Unite Union will meet owners today to discuss a rescue plan for the site and see if they can extend the consultation period beyond May 11.
Yet all acknowledged KLM’s decision is a huge setback in the fight to save it.
Save Manston campaigner Ruth Bailey, 57, Granville Road, Broadstairs, said: “We came here to show solidarity with the staff who are losing the jobs.
“It is a big blow that KLM are pulling out but we hope it doesn’t ring the death nell for the airport. We are still fighting for it.
“We are hoping there can be alternative arrangements, perhaps to make it a cargo port.
“It is the end of an era. It’s very very sad.”
Shortly after the final flight left, Jenny Milligan, 65, of Princes Garden, Cliftonville, said: “I feel very emotional. I actually wanted to cry.
“I never thought this would actually happen and seeing all the firemen, airport crew and flight crew standing out there and waving off the last passenger plane, my heart went out to them.
“Any decent businessperson would take over a business and fight to keep it up and running, and to make a profit. I feel that’s not been done here.
“They’ve bought it and given up within a few months. There has been no fight to bring new business to the airport.
“It isn’t only the 150 people who work here. It is the outlying businesses that run from here. The transport companies that pick up freight and the mini cab services that drop people off. All those businesses are going to be losing their trade as well.”
David Wallin, 43, of Dent-de-lion, Westgate-on-Sea, said: “It was the last KLM flight but it’s not the last plane over Manston and not the last commercial plane over Manston. There will be passengers plans coming back.
“There is a lot of hope that something will happen and another airline will come in soon.
“The British way is to never surrender. That is what Churchill said and that’s what we’re doing.”
More pictures in next week's Thanet Extra.
Don't miss out, subscribe today. Keep up to date with our newsletters.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Find out what's going on in the garden, with Kent expert Lucy Hewett's weekly update.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.