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Carlisle Airport to resume air services: the challenge, to attract and sustain the routes it needs

Carlisle Lake District Airport in Cumbria will resume commercial passenger services in Jun-2018, the first time since 1993, when it was under the ownership of the local council. Since 2009 it has been under the stewardship of the Stobart Group, which is best known for the Eddie Stobart road haulage and logistics brand, and is headquartered in Carlisle.

The Stobart Aviation division, which also owns Stobart Air (ex Aer Arann), is leasing Carlisle Airport on a 150-year deal to 2151, and also bought outright London Southend Airport, which is its biggest aviation-related enterprise.

The airport is located just to the north of the Lake District, an area of particular scenic beauty and possibly the most attractive vacation area in the UK. Tourism is the main employer in the region – tourists spend close to GBP3 billion each year.

A real problem facing the airport is whether or not there is an adequate population to justify the flights. Surrounding areas have more than adequate air transport provision of their own, so there is no wider catchment area.

Industry is concentrated towards the south of the region, which is equally accessible by motorway from Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds-Bradford airports or directly by rail from Manchester, and Newcastle Airport is closer still.

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