KEY stakeholders have welcomed the news that a Cumbrian firm has taken the reins of Carlisle Lake District Airport with a commitment to investing millions of pounds going forward. 

On Friday, the Cumberland News revealed that A.W Jenkinson, one of the UK's largest haulage providers, would become the new operator, having taken over from the Esken Group, following an arrangement with Cumberland Council and Esken (which includes the leased buildings on site). 

Esken, which entered administration in March, had been unsuccessful "to identify a commercial airline to partner with to facilitate the recommencement of commercial flying" at the airport which has lain dormant since 2020. 

It has not been revealed whether A.W Jenkinson will look to seek a commercial airline partner. 

The announcement however came with a pledge to invest at "least £5m", "creating quality sustainable jobs and providing the site with a long-term economic purpose". 

Carlisle MP John Stevenson said it is 'fantastic news' to have a "respected and successful business taking over with the best interests of the airport and the surrounding area at heart".

Managing director of Cumbria's Chamber of Commerce Suzanne Caldwell, who has previously advocated the need for private money to be used in getting the facility back up and running, said: "It's great news that a longstanding and successful Cumbrian business like Jenkinsons has taken over Carlisle Airport and committed to investing in it.

"Clearly issues remain but, this a very positive development which we welcome," she said. 

Dougie Kerr, chairman of the Solway Aviation Museum, which is based at the airport, was taken by "surprise" by the takeover but wished the Penrith-based firm success going forward. 

"It comes as a surprise to us at the museum as we have been kept in the dark as to the new owners would be.  

"We wish them every success in the future with the airport, l would like to meet with A.W Jenkinson as soon as possible to secure a long lease for the museum.  

"With a longer lease, it would allow us to go forward with our accreditation for the museum and it will enable us to make applications to funding to grow the museum," he said.