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Transport Minister Robert Goodwill says the government will not intervene directly in the consultation on Manston Airport’s closure but hopes it will stay open.
During a late night debate in the House of Commons instigated by Thanet MPs Sir Roger Gale and Laura Sandys, the minister said he hoped the airport would remain open as a “going concern”.
Yet despite insisting the government remains committed to improving airport capacity and efficiency in the UK, Mr Goodwill maintained a decision on its future lies with its owners.
It came in response from a request from North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale for an immediate review of cargo traffic, with the aim of freeing up more space for passenger flights at London’s airports by moving freight operations to regional airports like Manston.
But while Mr Goodwill referenced Manston’s “proud history dating back to the First World War”, he said services had declined since the 1970s as charter operators moved to larger airports with better transport links.
Mr Goodwill said: “The government is unable to interfere directly in the case of Manston.
“It is ultimately the responsibility of the airport owner to determine whether or not it is commercially viable.”
The airport was bought for £1 by Stagecoach founder Ann Gloag in November.
A consultation on the closure of the airport was launched in March, just 10 weeks after the takeover.
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