HOPES that Carlisle Airport could reopen this year have suffered a devastating blow after the collapse of Stobart Air - and confirmation that finance for the deal covering both the airline and the airport has collapsed.

The Isle of Man-based company Ettyl Limited, which signed agreements for the acquisition of Stobart Air and the airport from aviation and energy infrastructure group Esken Limited, has confirmed the deal's collapse.

Recent days have thrown up a series of obstacles to the planned deal, which looks unlikely to be revived.

The first problem came as Ettyl confirmed that it had alerted police in the Isle of Man to concerns it has about documents supplied by one possible backer for the acquisition.

In a statement yesterday, the firm said: "“Ettyl Limited can confirm that it raised concerns with the Isle of Man Constabulary as soon as it became aware of an issue with the paperwork supplied by one of the proposed third party funders.

"At this time, it will not be appropriate to comment further on this matter.

‘Ettyl Limited are now in discussions with potential alternative providers of finance.”

The planned sale of Dublin-based Stobart Air, which operates the Aer Lingus Regional service on a franchise basis, had already been thrown into doubt last month over Ettyl’s ability to fund the deal.

Following the announcement of Stobart Air's liquidation, Ettyl issued the following response: “In response to the decision of the Board of Stobart Air to appoint a liquidator to the business and to cease operations, our thoughts are with all the staff and passengers affected."

The spokesman added: "Ettyl Limited can confirm that it has received termination notices from Esken in respect of the proposed transactions for Stobart Air and Carlisle Lake District Airport.”

Former Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler said he still believes Carlisle Airport has a viable future. He said: "At the end of the day, the airport is still there. It just needs the right person to rescue it."