International Flights Coming to the Lake District?

Carlisle Lake District Airport, owned by the Stobart Group, is looking to add commercial passenger flights to its offering following a £5m grant from the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

If plans come to fruition, upgrades to the terminal and runway at the airport would lead to new scheduled links operated by Stobart Air with London Southend, Dublin and Belfast, via Flybe and Aer Lingus.

It is hoped that services could be operational within a year, increasing the potential for enhanced international tourism and an economic boost to the region following the award of World Heritage Status to the Lake District by Unesco earlier this month.

Rob Johnston, a board member of Cumbria LEP who were responsible for the improvements grant, believes Carlisle Airport to be “a key strategic asset for the county.” He went on to say:

“Developing the airport’s passenger offer will play an important role in maximising Cumbria’s tourism potential by helping to increase international visits. It will also allow easier business travel to and from the county.”

Stobart CEO Andrew Tinkler is optimistic of the region’s ambitions. Focusing specifically on current and potential tourism in the area, he said “it's massive - probably second biggest after London - so I think through the summer it'd be very busy.”

Although no direct international flights are likely even following the proposed upgrades, the link with Dublin could open the door for connected flights from most of Europe and some major US cities, including New York, Boston and Washington.

With a recent increase in visitors from the United States in particular, the news of Carlisle Airport’s proposed upgrades may be welcomed by those looking for an easier route to the National Park.