Manston airport: Lydd airport boss Hani Mutlaq says he does not think Thanet site can reopen and criticises owner Ann Gloag for shutting site

The man in charge of Lydd airport says the owners of Manston allowed their business interests to "direct their morals" when they closed the site.

Lydd airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq says he feels for the 144 workers struggling to find jobs and will always consider them for roles at the Romney Marsh airfield.

It comes as Thanet council confirmed its leader Cllr Iris Johnston will meet Manston owner Ann Gloag early next month, with the local authority seeking legal advice on a compulsory purchase order.

Lydd airport on Romney Marsh
Lydd airport on Romney Marsh

A day after Manston was shut by Scottish businesswoman Mrs Gloag, Lydd airport won its High Court battle to invest £25m in a 294m runway extension and new terminal building.

This month it began running chartered flights for Newmarket Holidays to Italy, which had previously flown from the Thanet site.

"I have never liked what happened at Manston," said Mr Mutlaq, who has been at Lydd since 2003.

"When you do a job which specialises in aviation you are limited in your job search.

"We will always consider ex-Manston employees. It is not easy for them to travel to Gatwick or Heathrow or Southend.

"You feel their frustration. The airport is very old and it has one of the longest runways in the UK.

“It is so sad to see it going. Some people just make business decisions and don’t look into anything else. Sometimes business directs their morals."

Lydd Airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq
Lydd Airport executive manager Hani Mutlaq

Despite protesters gathering at the airport last week and Thanet council considering a compulsory purchase order for the site, Mr Mutlaq struggles to see a future for the airport near Ramsgate.

He said: "Going back to normal operational status will not be that easy. Its CAA licence has been revoked.

"People are trying to keep it open but from an aviation point of view that will take some time.

"If she [Mrs Gloag] has declined lucrative offers then she has something in her mind to shut it down.

"I don't think there is a lot of confidence to use it again because of the change of hands so many times."

Businesswoman Ann Gloag owns 20% of the site along with Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave. Picture: Craig Watson/
Businesswoman Ann Gloag owns 20% of the site along with Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave. Picture: Craig Watson/

The half-Jordanian half-Canadian boss has just returned from an airline networking exhibition in Morocco, where he met with Ryanair and easyJet, as well as some European operators.

He said: "The biggest expectation is that when the runway is completed we will start taking airlines," said Mr Mutlaq.

"No one will take us seriously unless we have the runway completed and can run B737 or A320 aircraft, which is what the low cost airlines are using.

"Airlines are always looking for alternatives with less cost."

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