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Home   Thanet   News   Article

Sir Roger Gale confirms plans to buy Manston Airport to be made to owner Ann Gloag today

27 March 2014
by Dan Wright
Manston Airport could be saved from closure - as a deal to buy it is put forward today.
 
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, a committed supporter of Manston, has outlined the latest move to save the airport. 
 
He revealed that a letter of offer will be sent to the airport owner today and that a result could be learned soon. 
 
Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale at Manston Airport

Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale at Manston Airport

 
It follows the bombshell announcement to staff last Wednesday that the airport could close following a 45-day consultation period - leaving 150 staff without a job.
 
Sir Roger and Thanet South MP Laura Sandys met with the Aviation Minister yesterday and are attending another meeting with ministers later this morning.
 
He said: "I have reason to believe that a letter of offer will be sent by the prospective buyer to the owner today". 
 
"What I'm trying to do is broker the deal - to make sure that people are talking to each other and also, while that is going on, to reassure those operators from Manston that a lot is being done to try to promote and keep the airport open.
 
"I think there is every prospect that if the offer is accepted - or if the final offer is accepted - and quickly enough to prevent further damage to a business that has, inevitably, already suffered some damage, there is every reason to suppose that things could be put in place to allow the airport a good chance of success."
 

Related story

Scores of jobs at risk as Manston closure plans announced


 
Sir Roger did not give details on the prospective buyers as the situation is "a matter for commercial negotiation" -  but he has met with them. 
 
He has also updated Chancellor George Osborne on the Manston situation. 
 
"I do know that there is a party and I have met them, they are not ghosts, they are real people, who I believe are generally and seriously interested in buying the airport," he said. 
 
"There are a number of people who have expressed interest in the airport, not just the prospective purchaser.
 
"I'm not in a position to know whether any single one of them has the resources to buy the airport. 
 
A consultation has begun into the closure of Manston Airport

A consultation has begun into the closure of Manston Airport

 
"I don't even know whether the prospective purchaser has the resources to buy the airport. 
 
"It depends what the asking price is: if it was one pound you and I could buy it, if it was one billion pounds probably nobody could buy it."
 
Despite the progress, Sir Roger is aware that a lot of work still lies ahead - even if this deal does go through.
 
"I shall be working very hard," he added. 
"I have reason to believe that a letter of offer will be sent by the prospective buyer to the owner today" - Sir Roger Gale 
 
"The game doesn't stop when there is a deal, if there is a deal.  It's almost true to say the game will start then. 
 
"We've got to rebuild what has been lost and then take the airport forward to make sure that it is not only now, but remains viable in the future and successful - that's what I want.
 
"As far as we are concerned we will keep trying. Only when plan A has demonstrably failed will we even consider any plan B. 
 
"Plan A is to keep the airport open."
 
Meanwhile, Kent County Council and Thanet District Council have joined forces to support the Manston Airport task force set up by Sir Roger Gale MP and supported by Laura Sandys MP.
 
The task force is expected to work with other partners to explore a framework for Manston’s future.
 
This is likely to include a submission to extend the enterprise zone.
 
KCC cabinet member for economic development Mark Dance said: "We are particularly concerned about the likely impact of the airport’s closure on the staff and local businesses.
 
"This is a very important time for Manston and we are committed to supporting the task force."
 
Thanet District Council leader Cllr Clive Hart, said: “I’m pleased that there is shared agreement to seek the extension of the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone to include the airport, the Richborough Corridor and Manston Business Park.
 
Manston chief executive Charles Buchanan

Manston chief executive Charles Buchanan

 
"The advantages of achieving enterprise zone status would be a huge economic boost to the area, whatever the outcome is for the airport.”
 
A statement released today by Manston's chief executive, Charles Buchanan, said: "You may have heard stories in the press about offers being made, or having been made, to buy the airport.
 
"In the event that such an offer is received it will be considered closely and responded to.  
 
"Amongst other issues we will want to be clear that any offer is sufficiently funded to ensure that the ongoing costs of operating the airport can be met and that the commitments we have made to staff in the current consultation process in the event of closure are not put at risk."
 

 

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