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15 May 2014, 17:56
A last ditch offer by an American investment firm to buy a regional airport has been tabled - hours before it is due to close.
Connecticut-based RiverOak Investment Corp has submitted its third offer to buy Manston airport in Kent.
The new undisclosed offer is higher than the original £5 million offer and matches that demanded by the airport's owner, Ann Gloag, a local MP said.
North Thanet Conservative MP Roger Gale said: "I'm allowed to confirm that following discussions in the United States a further offer was made at 1.30pm UK time by the RiverOak Investment Corporation of America, offering to meet the purchase price requested by Ann Gloag at a meeting at Kinfauns Castle held earlier this month.
"Under these circumstances and given that the full requested amount is now available, it is still possible to save Manston airport from closure. I hope that discussions will take place immediately.''
Around 150 mainly part-time jobs faced the axe after a consultation began over its closure in March amid losses of £10,000 a day.
Now staff expecting to work their final day today were waiting anxiously on whether the improved bid will be accepted.
A spokeswoman for the airport said there was no comment.
Before the latest bid, 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: "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.
Before this latest twist, Manston said a "viable alternative'' to keep the airport open was unsuccessful, and that proposals put forward by staff had been carefully considered.