CUMBRIA's leaders have welcomed a potential new chapter for Carlisle's airport as discussions regarding its sale are still progressing. 

The aviation and renewables group, Esken, aims to sell Carlisle Lake District Airport by the end of February, alongside other 'non-core' assets within their portfolio. 

Sources have previously speculated that the estimated cost of the airport, which has been dormant since 2020, is around the '£15m mark', although it has not been confirmed. 

Carlisle's MP John Stevenson believes the prospective sale would be a valuable addition to the city during its period of transformation, stating that he would be "delighted to see it acquired by another business".

"Given the present owners don't want to do anything with the airport, I'd be delighted to see it acquired by another business who will hopefully invest in the airport and explore the potential the airport clearly does have for Carlisle and the Borderlands area. 

"I welcome investment and a new buyer as a motivation to develop the site.

"Carlisle is moving into a really exciting period, we've got the best part of half a billion pound of investment already in or going into the area, and this is just another addition to that investment, it's exciting for the area," he said. 

The sale comes at a time in which the Esken group could be facing an early loan repayment of over £190m over alleged agreement breaches with Carlyle Global Infrastructure Fund (CGI).

In an investor update following the alleged breaches (February 5), the firm stated "the uncertainty of the outcome of the has led to progress on the disposal of non-core assets", of which includes the airport seven miles from Carlisle

Speculation had arisen that Carlisle United's new owners, the Piatak family, maybe the ones in talks over its potential purchase. 

However last week, the American businessman confirmed he and his family are not currently engaged in talks over its future, despite being approached. 

"I would love to see the airport back into operation. I think it’s a quality product. I think it's a great asset there. I would love to see an operator come in and get that up and running," he said. 

Cumbria's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which had invested £4.95 million towards the terminal and runway, expressed its wish to see the airport put to productive use once again, aligning with larger aspirations for growing Cumbria’s economy.

Chair of Cumbria's Chamber of Commerce Suzanne Caldwell reiterated their support however cautioned of past difficulties revitalising the site. 

"If they've done a deal and the airport can be made to work then that's great news," she said.

"However it has proved immensely challenging through various attempts in the past. And any investment in the airport should come through private sources. 

"Putting further public money in, if available, would not make the best use for Cumbria of that funding," she said.