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Stone Hill Park publishes new report claiming Manston freight airport would be 'unviable'

A new report argues that Manston would be "unviable" as a freight airport.

The analysis has been published by Stone Hill Park, which owns the dormant airport site, as part of its efforts to fight off plans to re-open it as a freight cargo hub.

Produced by York Aviation, it says the current UK and global aviation market would leave Manston in a "loss making position" for at least 15 years and generate "negative return on investment" for more than 20.

Manston Airport
Manston Airport

Central to its argument is that it is government policy to back a third runway at Heathrow, which would double air freight capacity at the London airport, both in the bellyholds of passenger aircrafts and dedicated freighters.

The report says these facilities are actively being "modernised and extended" in anticipation of growth in cargo activity.

It argues that this would leave Manston reliant on niche and specialist cargo operations, which it describes as a "very small market".

It also says proposed restrictions on night-time flights would make it difficult for airlines to meet commercial requirements, to the extent that the majority of operations proposed by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), which is behind the plans, would be unviable.

The former airport site
The former airport site

The 266-page report, which analyses RSP's business case for re-opening Manston as a freight airport with some passenger, executive travel and engineering services, says the site could only attract half the number of passengers forecast.

The document has been submitted as a representation to a Development Consent Order, a high-level planning application determined by central government, seeking approval for compulsory purchase of the site.

It concludes that "the development and operation of the airport would simply be unviable and incapable of attracting competent investors".

The site's landowners say a new freight airport is "unviable"
The site's landowners say a new freight airport is "unviable"

Stone Hill Park has its own plans for developing the former airport site with a mix of up to 4,000 houses and businesses which they say would create 2,000 permanent jobs.

Director and chairman Trevor Cartner said: "I have previously stated I have full confidence in this country's laws and the processes that support them. That continues to be the case.

"It is clear from the first 178 pages of questions directed towards RSP's proposals that a forensic approach to the assessment and identification of evidence is being pursued and that RSP will be forced to provide the evidence for their proposals that has long been lacking.

"We remain confident that the evidence will be fully heard and properly considered, and that the Examining Authority's conclusion will be based on fact."

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