Tiny Carlisle airport is gearing up to offer connections to the US following investment by its owners the Stobart Group.
The haulage and air travel company is planning flights from the former RAF base to Dublin from next summer using its Stobart Air fleet (previously known as Aer Arann), which flies under the Aer Lingus Regional name. Flights will connect with Aer Lingus transatlantic services.
Stobart purchased the lease of the airport, known as Carlisle Lake District airport, in 2009, six months after it bought Southend airport. Since then, it has concentrated development on the Essex airport, rebranding it as London Southend, attracting Easyjet to it and opening a rail station linking it to London. Southend now handles a million passengers, with plans to treble this by 2017.
Plans for Carlisle are more small scale and chiefly involve offering the connection with Aer Lingus, which will allow US customs and immigration clearance in the Irish capital. Stobart Group chief executive Andrew Tinkler said he expected about 20,000 people a year to fly between Carlisle and the US.