Travel industry news

05 Jul 2019

BY James Chapple


New Manston airport owners plan to resume short-haul operations

The new owners of Manston airport have set out ambitious plans to reopen the airport to short-haul flights within three years.

Manston Airport 2.jpg

New Manston airport owners plan to resume short-haul operations

RiverOak Strategic Partners agreed a deal earlier this week to acquire the site in Kent from Stone Hill Park.


Manston has been closed since May 2014 and since earmarked for a housing development or a lorry park.

However, RiverOak has for several years pursued a development consent order (DCO) seeking to reopen the airport.

According to RiverOak, Stone Hill Park has – as part of the deal – agreed to withdraw its objection to the DCO and withdraw its planning applications to turn the site over to housing.

RiverOak Director and spokesperson Tony Freudmann told the BBC: “We bought it to turn it back into an airport. The current plan is to have the airport reopened in the spring of 2022 for short-haul and cargo flights.”

'Immense interest' from airlines

'Immense interest' from airlines

According to the BBC, RiverOak predicts from 2024, Manston could handle up to 680,000 passengers a year, doubling to around 1.4 million in the two decades following.

Fellow RiverOak director George Yerrall added: “We felt the time had come for the parties to come together to negotiate a settlement of the ownership issues.

“We now look forward to focusing on securing development consent and making rapid progress towards the re-opening of Manston with all the economic and other benefits we believe it will bring.”

Yerrall added RiverOak’s DCO application had generated “immense interest” from airlines and freight operators, as well as local colleges and employers.

“Now we have secured the land, it will allow us to develop those relationships as far as we can while we wait to receive development consent,” said Yerrall.

Manston closed in 2014 and has remained shut to flight operators since.

In January, Manston hosted an exercise to test plans for border disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which would see the site become a lorry park to alleviate disruption to major highways in Kent.

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