Scheduled passenger flights from Carlisle Airport will be operating by this time next year, Stobart Group chief Andrew Tinkler has pledged.
Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement that proposed routes from Carlisle to London Southend, Dublin and Belfast would receive a start-up subsidy from the Government’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund.
Mr Tinkler revealed that Stobart would also receive grant funding towards runway improvements, which must be completed before scheduled passenger services can start.
He said: “Our aim is to carry out those works and get it up to Civil Aviation Authority standards this summer, and have the airport ready for scheduled flights by October.
“We might start them then but it may be better to wait until the spring, given that it takes time to sell airline seats. We will see how it goes.”
He was speaking after Stobart Group, which owns the airport, posted healthy pre-tax profits of £10 million for the year to April.
The company completed a freight distribution centre at Carlisle Airport last summer and then agreed a sale and lease back deal on the property for £16.9m. The bulk of the 315,000sq ft freight distribution centre is sub-let to haulier Eddie Stobart.
Stobart Group’s plan for scheduled flights would see twice daily services to Southend, which is less than an hour from central London by train, and one flight per day to both Belfast and Dublin, the latter with onward connections to the US.
The flights would be operated by Stobart Air, in which Stobart Group holds a 45 per cent stake. Mr Tinkler added that the proposals for flights from Carlisle would not be affected by recent management changes at Stobart Air.
He had to take over as chairman of the airline last month following the sudden departure of former Ryanair executive Tim Jeans after only six months in the role.
Then last week it emerged that chief executive Sean Brogan was quitting after his plan to lead a management buy out was rejected.
Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus Regional services under a franchise agreement, carried 1.4m passengers in 2015-16.