Manston to serve as airfreight hub if reopened

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Manston Airport before it was closed in 2014

Manston Airport will be reopened as an airfreight and cargo hub, supporting the UK government’s aim of increasing aviation capacity, the US investment firm attempting to purchase the closed hub says.

RiverOak Investments has been attempting to purchase the airport, which closed in May 2014. It had tried acquiring the site as the indemnity partner for a Compulsory Purchase Order with the local authority, Thanet District Council, but got rejected twice. RiverOak is now attempting to use a Development Consent Order, which is designed to obtain permission for developments categorised as ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects’.

If approved, the US firm says Manston will be developed to handle more than 10,000 air transport movements of cargo aircraft per year and would provide much needed additional capacity in the South East of England, serving as an airfreight and logistics gateway for the region.

In its report, click here to read, RiverOak says: “The concept of a dedicated air cargo hub airport is well established across Europe and North America with similar business models in operation at airports in Liege, Belgium, Cologne-Bonn and Leipzig, Germany, Charles De Gaulle, France, Alliance Fort-Worth, USA, Mirabel and JC Munro International both in Canada.”

Plans for the airport include two new areas of apron covering 208,000 square metres providing parking for up to 18 aircraft, relocating cargo facilities and new road access to the cargo and aircraft maintenance facility from Spitfire Way to the West of existing access.

RiverOak says airfreight operations will be the main focus, starting shortly after reopening, and it would seek to attract additional customers and operating as a base for one or more freight forwarding and handling company.

In its report, RiverOak predicts Manston could capture up to 600,000 tonnes of airfreight by 2035 through a combination of businesses returning, capturing market share from other airports and general growth.