Carlisle airport to re-open for scheduled passenger flights for first time in a quarter-century

Simon Calder
Northern flights: Carlisle last had a scheduled departure in 1993: Stobart Group

Travellers to the Lake District and south-west Scotland will get a new option from the summer when Carlisle airport re-opens for scheduled passenger traffic.

Flights to and from “Carlisle Lake District Airport,” as it is officially known, will begin on 4 June. It last had a scheduled service in 1993, when an airline called Lakeside Northwest flew to and from Stansted. The carrier collapsed at the end of 1993, ending all commercial passenger flights.

Stobart Group, which owns the airport, said the routes will be to “major tourism and business hubs including London, Dublin and Belfast”.

No details have been released of the airline or airports to be served in London or Belfast, but Stobart Air flying in Flybe colours is a prime candidate. Stobart Group also owns Southend airport, which is likely to be the London destination.

Carlisle airport, whose code is CAX, is 275 miles from Southend - about one hour’s flight, compared with a train journey of over three hours.

Kate Willard, head of corporate projects at Stobart Group, said: “We look forward to working with partners in the visitor economy over these next months to help develop packages and promotions to make sure that our air services match the needs of our visitors.”

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has put almost £5m into a project to improve the runway and terminal. The organisation’s executive director, Graham Haywood, said: “Carlisle Lake District Airport will have a huge impact on Cumbria’s visitor economy and is also a key strategic business asset for the county. Increasing the numbers of high-spending international visitors is a key target.

“Improving key transport infrastructure facilities like the airport helps boost economic growth and can act as a catalyst for creating new business hubs and attracting private sector investment.”

Newcastle airport is 46 miles away, while Prestwick is 81 miles distant. A bigger competitor, though, is Manchester - Britain’s third-busiest airport, and a gateway to the Lake District with a direct rail connection to Windermere.