Still hope for Manston?

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THE American firm behind the failed bid for Manston airport says it is still in talks to buy the site and plans to use it as a cargo hub.

RiverOaks Investment Corp LLC, of Stamford Connecticut, says the experience of one of its senior team members in refinancing Alliance Fort Worth Airport in Texas has proven cargo-led airports can be viable.

Alliance Fort Worth is owned by the City of Fort Worth and operated by privately-held Alliance Aviation Services, a subsidiary of Hillwood Development Company, LLC.

It is the world's first industrial airport and is the centrepiece of a 17,000 acre development known as AllianceTexas , which includes homes, inland port transportation, office complexes, shops, schools and churches as well as the airport.

The site, first planned as a reliever airport until discussions turned to an industrial project, first opened in 1989 and now handles more than 137,600 operations per year.

Major tenants include BNSF Railway, Bell Helicopter Textron, Drug Enforcement Administration, DynCorp International andFedEx Express.

RiverOak spokesman Tony Freudmann, previously the senior vice president of the Planestation group, said: “RiverOak have advised that one of their executives was involved in a major refinancing exercise for Alliance Fort Worth Airport in Texas a few years ago. It is an entirely cargo airport (apart from general aviation). It was that exercise and a careful analysis of what has happened since which taught RiverOak that cargo hubs can be successful in their own right and also gave them important links with some of the major users of Alliance Fort Worth.

“They see Manston as a cargo hub. They want to develop its existing perishables business, for which it enjoys an excellent reputation. They also plan to persuade those carriers who fly freighters into Heathrow to switch to Manston. In addition they plan to use their established relationships via Alliance Fort Worth to bring in new business.

“They are not ruling out passenger traffic in the medium to long term, but for now cargo will be the priority.”

RiverOaks had a £5 million offer for the airport rejected this month. Last Tuesday it was announced the airport would close on May 15.

But Mr Freudmann has confirmed there is “ongoing dialogue” between the company and owner Ann Gloag’s representatives.

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Profile picture for user charliehunt

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True but Roger Gale, one of two local MP's leading the campaign for a Compulsory Purchase Order commented:

"Much of what is on sale is past its best and any new operator would be looking to replace and refresh equipment more suited to the tasks generated by the new business that Manston will attract. The Transport Select Committee’s planned inquiry into regional airports will offer a political opportunity to air the true facts surrounding what I regard as the temporary closure of Manston and in due course I shall also be seeking a further adjournment debate. “The inquiry that a Compulsory Purchase Order will almost certainly generate will additionally offer the chance to get the facts on the record and to expose the manner in which potential business opportunities have been squandered”.

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I hope Manston can be saved from being turned into a housing estate, but the loss by tender of the ATC tower and fuel farm facilities would be an extra headache for any potential new owner.
Strictly speaking, the comment about he equipment being "past its best" may by true as far as some equipment goes but the sale still slows everything down in terms of trying to get the place operational again.
Good luck to those fighting to reopen it.

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We know that 80% of the shares have sold - my post and that article was made subsequently!

Profile picture for user Moggy C

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Now look what the local press has turned up.

Proper journalism for once

You'll need a quiet half hour to read and follow, but it is eye-opening

http://thaneteye.wordpress.com/

Moggy

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This is probably why the council is still considering a compulsory purchase order in favour of River Oak, whose offer on the terms required by Mrs Gloag, was rejected by her.

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Now look what the local press has turned up.

Proper journalism for once

Moggy

If that is all true then it is pretty damning, and suggests KCC may not have done detailled research into the entity that is buying the airport. Unfortunately it wouldn't be the first time a local council was found to have been a little less than thorough in its research, and have backed the wrong horse in a race.

Perhaps they (KCC) were dazzled by the promise of lots of new jobs/new businesses in the area, and were so impressed by a slick presentations that they didn't check there was any real substance behind it.

And, ultimately, as the airport is private property and not (so far as I understand it) a KCC owned amenity to sell, they have little say in the transaction. They can recommend or support one bid more than another, but beyond that they are not really involved (are they?).

It's essentially a private deal beyond the remit of KCC, all KCC can do is try to help 'facilitiate' it by making the right noises if asked by the bidders about possible planning proposals, redevelopment etc. Given the public concern over the sale and future employment etc KCC will probably have been trying to put positive "spin" on the deal given the unemployment in the Thanet area, rather than checking whether the bidder had the track record to deliver on those (somewhat vague) promises anyway.

Of course, the press report in the link does seem to show some dealings that were not widely publicised, but that were presumably in the public domain if you knew which stones to look under, and that some people may have been (ahem) economical with the info they gave out, but I suspect no-one has done anything illegal - I imagine the "suits" involved would have been clever enough to employ sufficient legal talent to ensure they (just) stayed on the right side of the law at each stage.

Doesn't exactly cover the bankers involved, the potential purchasers themselves, nor others named in the deal in glory though does it, and KCC may end up looking less than fully competent to help facilitate such a major deal on "their patch".

What worries me more is that the purchaser is the same bunch who took over the old Pfizer site at Sandwich...surely it can't be good to allow the same developer to take over two major chunks of real estate so close together - but I guess that goes back to my point that KCC are not really involved as such, neither Pfizer nor Manston sites were/are theirs to sell, KCC are essentially only onlookers, albeit with an interest in that they would (presumably) hope to see the sites' new owners bring employment and skills into Thanet?

And of course, if the deal(s) ever fell over, or the site(s) ended up being part of a failed business, KCC would probably end up having to step in and bail out various parties affected by the failure, while assorted "suits" faded quietly into the background, no doubt without having lost any of their own cash along the way.... twas always thus...:apologetic:

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But, as discussed earlier, or in a different thread, Thanet Council will decide whether or not to grant a compulsory purchase order in favour of the only bidder in the frame. River Oak. The Council is taking long enough to examine their bid and so one would hope they will also have undertaken due diligence in their consideration of planning permission to Messrs Musgrave and Cartner, under whichever nameplate they have made their offer.

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Proper journalism for once

http://thaneteye.wordpress.com/

Moggy

Presumably Mrs Gloag knows who she has got into bed with and that Messrs Musgrave and Cartner are aware of the opposition to any development of Manston as anything other than an airfield. Clearly at the end of the day they think that their legal eagles will be able to ride all over the opposition. And as PaulF says it is a private sale.

It is not clear to me how a CPO would work but I am sure that without one they will be able to successfully defeat Thanet Council over planning permission. Clearly Mrs Gloag knew the opposition to her intentions for the site before she bought it and was more than confident that she would get her way in the long term otherwise she would not have invested substantial amounts of money. Or is there money to be made from the CPO?

This could well be a very long term project and as someone has said Land Banking.

The gifting of the freehold for the museum is obviously very welcome but, like the rest of the hype just window dressing, look what nice people we are.

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Yes for sure to the last point. There is no money to be made out of the CPO per se except that presumably River Oak believe they can make money from a cargo operation there for a relatively small investment.

One day we might get know the machinations of the last several months and the many more to come before Manston's future is finally resolved.

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One day we might get know the machinations of the last several months and the many more to come before Manston's future is finally resolved.

Yes indeed, and in the meantime it is such a shame to see the weeds taking over (figuratively speaking, and by now no doubt literally too...) what was until a few months ago a perfectly serviceable airport...

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Yes - very dispiriting indeed.:(

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A team from River Oak are in Kent for talks about Manston.

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Last year I was returning from a day-trip to northern France

I hit a VMC/IMC issue mid-channel, and was hugely grateful for the help of Manston Radar.

I so hope they will return.

Moggy

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Are there any aircraft trapped at the Airfield? Either airworthy or non airworthy?

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Three I think but none airworthy. There was talk of the DC8 going to the Lelystad museum a few years ago.

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The Thanet Council plan foresees Manston as an airport and no housing developments for the site are included in the plan.