PlaneStation seeks partner for Manston

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The Independent Online

PlaneStation, the airport owner and property group, is looking for a joint venture partner to operate and help develop its main UK asset, Manston airport in Kent.

PlaneStation, the airport owner and property group, is looking for a joint venture partner to operate and help develop its main UK asset, Manston airport in Kent.

The group, formerly known as Wiggins, is in discussions with a number of international airport operators including the German company Hochtief. If a deal can be reached, Planestation will remain the majority shareholder in Manston but operation of the airport will be handed over to its new partner.

Martin May, PlaneStation's chief executive, said yesterday that the company could not afford to develop Manston on its own. It is investing £6m on a new terminal, car parking facilities and security in readiness for the launch of services from Manston this September by the start-up airline EU Jet, which is aiming to carry 500,000 passengers in its first year.

It also disclosed that it is negotiating with Sony to make Manston a showcase for the latest airport security and ticketing technology, such as facial detection systems.

PlaneStation ousted Oliver Iny as chief executive in March and is threatening to convene an extraordinary shareholders meeting to remove him from the board unless he agrees to go voluntarily. Pre-tax losses last year rose to £17m from £12.8m for the previous 12 months.

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