£5m boost to start international passenger flights from Carlisle Airport
Carlisle Airport is to get a multi-million pound boost to bring international passenger flights to Cumbria.
Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is set to invest £4.75m in the airport, which is owned by Stobart Group, to improve the county's connectivity.
This news comes on the day that Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry pays a visit to Carlisle to see the airport, where he will meet outgoing Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler, and the University of Cumbria's STEM labs, at its Fusehill Street campus.
The money which the LEP plans to invest in the airport will be used to improve the runway and the terminal. Stobart Group has planning applications with Carlisle City Council in relation to these.
This will allow the creation of new passenger routes to Belfast, London Southend and Dublin. The last of these is an international hub with direct flights to most of Europe and cities in the US including New York, Boston and Washington.
Last month Mr Tinkler said passenger flights could be leaving the airport from summer 2018.
Rob Johnston, a Cumbria LEP board member, said: “Carlisle airport is crucial to Cumbria’s growth ambitions. It is a key strategic asset for the county. 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.
“The airport will also help facilitate wider economic growth, and reinforce Cumbria’s position in the nuclear and renewable energy sectors. It has the potential to become a strategically significant logistics hub.
“It could also enable a number of sectors to move freight by air, therefore reducing congestion on the road and rail network."
Carlisle Airport – branded as Carlisle Lake District Airport and is at Irthington, near Brampton – was originally an RAF base.
It was sold to the then local authority in 1960 and had several owners before being bought by Stobart Group in 2009.
The firm subsequently began construction of an air freight distribution centre at the site.
The £3.5m labs - which the LEP supported with £784,000 - were created to respond to Cumbria’s shortage of graduates with science skills, .
University pro vice chancellor Sandra Booth said ‘’ Northern Powerhouse projects create demand for engineering and science graduates, and people with project management skills. STEM is therefore a major priority for the university and is reflected in our Strategic Plan as an area of growth for the institution.
"The development of the university’s new science, and engineering portfolio is in direct response to local industry needs. The skills and knowledge students acquire from studying degrees and apprenticeships in STEM subjects at the university, together with professional body accreditation and opportunities for work experience with partners, will enhance their employability prospects and create a wider pool of skilled graduates providing a significant long-term boost in human capital to Cumbria’s economy.”