Last ditch airport offer rejected

A last ditch offer by an American investment firm to buy a regional airport hours before it was due to close has been rejected.

A late offer has been made for Manston airport.
A late offer for Manston airport has been turned down

Connecticut-based RiverOak Investment Corp submitted its third offer to buy Manston airport in Kent at 1.30pm.

Although the undisclosed bid was said to have matched that asked for by the airport's owner, Ann Gloag, it was turned down.

An airport spokeswoman confirmed the rejection as many staff left the site for the last time, ending a century of aviation history at Manston.

North Thanet Conservative MP Roger Gale, who has campaigned for Manston's survival, said earlier that talks should take place to seal a deal.

He said: "Under these circumstances and given that the full requested amount is now available, it is still possible to save Manston airport from closure."

Now around 150 mainly part-time jobs have been axed after a consultation began over its closure in March amid losses of £10,000 a day.

Before today's bid was rejected, union leaders said management had failed to enter into proper consultation to fully explore the previous offer by RiverOak Investment Corp.

Wendy Fraser, of Save Manston Airport, said their supporters believed that Ms Gloag never intended to sell the airport.

She said: "We believe with absolute conviction that the intention was always to run it down, close it to develop it into a residential development."

She added: "The staff are angry and sad, but they have been amazed by the support they've received.

"Only five people have got jobs out of 150. We did a poll on Facebook and almost all said that yes they would return to Manston in a heartbeat."

Legal advice was being sought to support taking out grievances against the airport's owner for its "abject failure" to hold "meaningful talks" to save the airport, Unite said this week.

The union's regional officer, Ian McCoulough, has said up to 500 jobs within the wider supply chain could be affected by Manston's closure.

Manston officials have previously said a "viable alternative" to keep the airport open was unsuccessful, and that proposals put forward by staff had been carefully considered.