THE businessman whose company has acquired Carlisle Lake District Airport says he aims to see scheduled passenger flights restarted by the summer.

The Isle of Man-based company involved – Ettyl Limited – confirmed last month that it has signed agreements for the acquisition of Stobart Air and Carlisle Lake District Airport from Esken Limited, the aviation and energy infrastructure group.

Ettyl has said Stobart Air will continue to operate the existing Aer Lingus regional franchise that is currently contracted to run through to December 2022. The firm’s intention is to retain all staff currently employed by Stobart Air and Carlisle Lake District Airport.

The firm’s chief executive Jason Scales said: “We were presented with an opportunity to acquire the airport, and as we were looking to grow and expand our aviation infrastructure business we decided to assess it.

“When we looked at it, we realised that Carlisle Lake District Airport has very similar challenges to what we had in the Isle of Man. Ground transport links aren’t that great to the region and there’s no neighbouring competition in terms of [air] travel. Newcastle is a bit of trek away and Manchester is a bit of a slog down the M6.

“So for a business it is a credible proposition as a regional airport.”

At present, said Mr Scales, the focus would be on restarting passenger flights, building business on the back of the coming summer tourism trade.

He said: “We’re actively engaged with a number of regional airlines with a view to offering new routes; in particular to see if we can get routes ready for the upcoming summer.”

Mr Scales said the Lake District, Cumbria and the Borders, in the ‘middle-tier of visitor accommodation’, has ample accommodation capacity for the summer.

An air link to Carlisle would appeal to visitors – particularly those from the south of England who otherwise faced a cumbersome journey, he said. A regular air service between Carlisle and London would fuel Cumbria’s visitor economy, Mr Scales added.

“We have a big desire to get scheduled services in place for the summer.We aim to start building the routes up in a post-Covid world – to the point when they become largely viable on their own.”

London Southend – previously the destination for flights from Carlisle – might not be the airport partner chosen. The choice of London destination would ultimately be a commercial decision, added Mr Scales.