Manston Airport bidder withdraws purchase offer

Manston Airport
Image caption Both Union officials and Thanet council said the news that the offer had been withdrawn was disappointing

An offer from an unnamed potential buyer for a Kent airport facing closure has been withdrawn.

Manston Airport was bought by Ann Gloag, who co-founded the Stagecoach Group, for £1 from the New Zealand company Infratil in October.

Since then it is understood the airport has been losing about £10,000 a day.

Up to 150 mostly part-time jobs were placed at risk last month when the airport revealed it was holding a consultation over a possible closure.

Ian McCoulough, from the Unite union, said: "I'm very disappointed."

He said the offer was withdrawn at 07:00 BST and the union had been in a consultation meeting where a number of options had been discussed.

He said further talks would take place on Thursday.

'Enterprise zone bid'

Thanet councillor Will Scobie also said the withdrawal of the offer was disappointing for the area.

When asked if this was the end for Manston as an airport, he replied: "It certainly looks like it.

"All the speculation around over the last couple of weeks has been incredibly damaging for staff. They must be going through absolute hell."

Image caption More than 12,000 people signed a petition in favour of keeping Manston open

Thanet District Council had put forward plans for an existing enterprise zone at Discovery Park, the former Pfizer site, to be extended to Manston, a move that could help to bring investment to the area, he said.

'Still hope'

Hundreds of people attended a meeting last weekend to oppose possible closure of the airport, while Sir Roger Gale, the MP for Thanet North, and Laura Sandys, MP for Thanet South, have led moves to keep Manston open.

Dutch airline KLM has already announced it will suspend its Cityhopper flights between the airport and Amsterdam from 10 April.

A petition to keep the airport open has gained more than 12,000 signatures.

On Thursday, Mr Gale said: "In politics you continually have to fight things that superficially might appear like lost causes.

"There may come a time when, if the airport closes, we have to look to Plan B. Until that time comes, I remain hopeful."

David Foley, from Thanet and East Kent Chamber of Commerce also said: "Sometimes it's not a financial argument that can attract people, sometimes it might be a whim.

"We'd like to think that Manston can attract an owner with a serious intent at keeping it on as a going concern."

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