Thousands of passengers have been left stranded after the parent company of budget airline EUjet filed for administration and stopped all flights.
EUjet axed flights to Glasgow and Madrid because of poor demand
PlaneStation, which owns both EUjet and the airport at Manston, had its shares suspended on Monday and went into voluntary administration on Tuesday.
The firm said its bank had withdrawn financial support which it needed because of low passenger numbers.
About 5,000 passengers are thought to be stranded abroad unable to get home.
The jobs of about 500 staff working at the airport or for the airline are also in doubt.
The first two passenger flights of the day left the airport as normal, but all later services - 10 in total - were cancelled.
Passengers were left waiting at the airport, with no flights into or out of Manston except freight flights.
Holidaymakers due to be flying back to the UK with EUjet were left trying to arrange alternative flights with other airlines.
In a statement to staff EUjet chief executive PJ McGoldrick said the failure to secure funds from the bank meant the airport could not be kept operational.
Screens at the airport told of the flight cancellations
He said: "It is with regret I must advise you that EUjet has had no alternative but with immediate effect to suspend all airline operations and appoint an administrator in Ireland."
He said passengers would be able to get refunds from their credit card companies.
Mr McGoldrick told staff: "I know this is terrible news for you all, especially considering the time, effort and passion that all of you have shown in building the business."
The airline began commercial flights in September 2004 but passenger numbers have been well below predicted levels.
EUjet hoped to have 500,000 passengers in its first year but in its first 11 months flights have carried only 330,000 people.
A statement on the airline's website said "normal operations will resume shortly" but it was later replaced with a notice reading "please be advised that due to unforeseen circumstances EUjet has had to suspend all operations".
EUjet ran four Fokker 100 aircraft, flying from Manston to 18 destinations in the UK and Europe.
Manston Airport is on the site of a former military airfield
The airline had already axed two of its destinations - Madrid and Glasgow - because of low passenger numbers, and postponed plans to start flights to Cologne.
PlaneStation said it needed a cash input because of low passenger levels, meaning lower than expected income but said talks with the bank had "not been positive".
Last month PlaneStation had to sell off its 75% interest in the Kent International Business Park in Manston, blaming EUjet's poor passenger numbers.
The airport's two local MPs greeted the news with dismay.
Roger Gale, Conservative MP for Thanet North, said it was "desperately sad that so many people now find themselves, at least for the moment, out of work".
Stephen Ladyman, Labour MP for Thanet South, said: "It's very important that passenger services from Manston Airport continue, whether it's EUjet or anybody else that's running them."
A spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) said clients with future bookings were unlikely to get any sort of refund unless they had spent more than £100 and paid by credit card.