Stobart Group is looking to fund a growth programme by suspending its dividend, it has announced as its losses rise to £26m.

The Carlisle-based aviation and energy business, which also owns Carlisle Lake District Airport, released interim results for the six months ended August 31,

It showed revenues rise from £69.43m to £93.13m, although pre-tax losses rose from £10.615m loss last year to a £26.633m loss this year.

It said its decision to suspend the interim and final dividend will save £22m.

Warwick Brady, chief executive, said: "In London Southend Airport and Stobart Energy, the group has two businesses with immediate and considerable growth opportunities.

"London Southend Airport continues to attract new airlines and is on course to deliver our target of

five million annual passengers by February 2023. At the same time, Stobart Energy is now set to become increasingly cash generative.

"Both of these exciting growth businesses require further investment in order to deliver their full potential.

"The board has undertaken an extensive review of the capital required to fund this growth and taken the decision to suspend the dividend in order to maximise the capital available for the further development of these growth businesses.

"We are confident that, with the planned strategic investment, we will deliver superior future returns."

Flybe/Virgin Connect announced yesterday that it is to open a new base at London Southend that will fly to 10 destinations, expected to attract around 500,000 passengers annually.