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Manston airport: TG Aviation in High Court to seek an injunction against the closure of the Thanet site

18 June 2014
by Chris Price

A flight training company based at Manston airport has been to the High Court today in a bid to get an injunction against the closure of the site.

TG Aviation have been forced to move their business operations to Lydd airport, despite having 50 years left on their lease at the Thanet airfield.

In a bid to return to the site, the company has launched a case against Kent Facilites Limited, owned by Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag.

The Manston airport runway from above. Picture Simon Burchett

The Manston airport runway from above. Picture: Simon Burchett

The injunction would require the owners to give the company – based at Manston for more than 30 years – permission to use the runway.

However the owners requested more time to respond to TG Aviation’s case, which was granted by judge Mrs Justice Asplin.

The application will now be heard at the High Court on Friday, June 27.

It comes a day after meetings between the aviation minister Robert Goodwill and the boss of the US company which tried to buy the airport after the consultation on its closure was announced.

RiverOak chief executive Steve DeNardo and fellow directors reaffirmed their desire to buy the site and also met Thanet MPs Sir Roger Gale and Laura Sandys.

Further meetings will follow later this week.

The company had three offers turned down by the site’s owners, including one on the day of its closure which met the asking price.

Manston airport has closed

Manston airport has closed

Meanwhile, Thanet District Council is still taking legal advice on the viability of a compulsory purchase order for the site, with its leader Cllr Iris Johnston set to meet Mrs Gloag next month.

In a joint statement, Sir Roger and Mr Sandys said: “It is clear that RiverOak are committed in their determination to acquire and to operate Manston as an airport, with all the job-creating potential that will flow from that.

“There are, of course, obstacles to be overcome and much will depend upon the ability of Thanet District Council to bring a compulsory purchase order to a satisfactory conclusion.

"Literally and metaphorically we and RiverOak are in this for the long haul..." - Thanet MPs Sir Roger Gale and Laura Sandys

“With the cross-party political support that exists we believe that this can be achieved.”

Meanwhile, UKIP leader Nigel Farage and fellow MEP Janice Atkinson are urging the Civil Aviation Authority to step in and block any attempt to turn Manston airport over to developers.
 
In a joint letter to the chairman of the CAA, Dame Deirdre Hutton, the pair encourage her to do all she can to prevent the airport site being used for housing development and retain the runway as an operational facility.
 
However, the CAA responded by saying it had no powers to intervene and confirmed the previous operating licence granted to the owner Ann Gloag had been formally withdrawn.
 
In the letter, the MEPs say: “We believe there must be no change of use of the site and Manston’s future - with judicious investment - must lie in aviation.
 
"We therefore ask you to do everything within your powers to prevent any non-aviation development and oppose any change of use.”
 
They add: “We also suggest that Manston - with a runway capable of taking the largest of aircraft and with HS1 access already in the pipeline - needs much more imaginitive inclusion in the development of the UK’s aviation and transport policy.”
 
A CAA spokesman said that it had no authority or powers to intervene, saying that its role would only be to consider future applicatios for an operating licence.
 
Manston airport was closed last month after its owners said running it was no longer “financially viable”. 
 
It is undertstood to have been losing £10,000 a day.
 

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