Manston Kent International Airport's owner, RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), has secured a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the UK's transport minister, Andrew Stephenson, to rebuild the airport as an international cargo and passenger hub.

The decision, which overruled a Planning Inspectorate recommendation to reject the scheme, envisages the airport in Kent - located at the tip of southeastern England geographically close to continental Europe - to open by 2023.

It will handle up to 10,000 cargo flights a year, according to RSP, as well as passenger services. Construction is due to start in 2021, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Manston's last commercial flights, a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines service to Amsterdam Schiphol, operated until April 2014. The site was then bought for a nominal GBP1 pound (USD1.25) a year before being sold to developers and earmarked for housing.

RiverOak, which acquired Manston for GBP16.5 million (USD21.7 million) in July 2019, has promised that its GBP300 million (USD375 million) project to reopen it will create more than 23,000 jobs. Recently, it has pressed its case by arguing that the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have amplified the need for more specialist cargo capacity.

"Once built, Manston will be one of the most modern, efficient, and environmentally-friendly freight hubs in the world," claimed Tony Freudmann, the developer's director.

Roger Gale, Member of Parliament for the relatively deprived area, North Thanet, where the airport is located, said: "This national asset has been closed for far too long, but it can now play a critical role in delivering jobs and investment. [...] Post-Brexit Britain is going to need additional air freight capacity and Manston can offer this swiftly."

However, the local No Night Flights campaign group and the Green Party both said they would challenge the decision, arguing that there was no evidence the project would create jobs.