The expansion of Heathrow Airport could open the door to scheduled flights there from Carlisle, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

He was responding to a Commons' question from Workington MP Sue Hayman in the wake of the Government's announcement that it is backing plans for a third runway to increase capacity at Heathrow, London's busiest airport.

The Labour MP asked: “Is he aware that it takes at least two-and-a-half hours to get from west Cumbria to our nearest airport?

"Will he also look at how Carlisle Airport could benefit from the expansion at Heathrow?”

Chris Grayling Mr Grayling responded: “If there are more slots available at Heathrow, and there is a market to fly there from Carlisle, there will be an opportunity for the air operators to do that.”

The Treasury confirmed a year ago that proposed routes from Carlisle to London Southend, Belfast and Dublin are among five to share a £7m subsidy for new services from regional airports.

Stobart Group, which opens Carlisle Airport, applied for support from the Government’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund and hopes to see scheduled passenger services begin next year.

It chose Southend as the destination for twice-daily London flights because it owns the airport and because landing slots are readily available.

However, Heathrow would be more attractive for international travellers because of the huge choice of onward connections available there.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson remains cautious about the prospects of a Carlisle-Heathrow link.

He said: “We will have to see what happens with the development of Carlisle Airport and what happens at Heathrow.

"If Carlisle has developed in the next 10 years, then there is a real opportunity for something to happen.”